Jail for vicious knife attack

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A DRINK and drug-crazed knifeman who stabbed his cowering partner as she tried to shield herself with a cushion has been caged.

A court heard that John Hughes plunged the blade through his victim’s token defences into her leg and also assaulted his teenaged step-son.

The 44-year-old from Greatacre, Whelley, Wigan, was today beginning a three-year prison term.

Liverpool Crown Court was told that victim Deborah Leyland was particularly distraught as she had been assaulted by previous partners and Hughes had promised her that he would not behave in the same way.

But from midnight on January 12 this year he launched a sustained attack on her and her 15-year-old son.

Jailing Hughes, Judge Norman Wright said that Ms Leyland had suffered “a terrifying ordeal” when he tried to stab her.

She used a cushion to protect herself “but you stabbed with such ferocity and force that the blade went through the cushion and penetrated her skin.”

She has been left badly psychologically affected and described herself as “a bag of nerves.”

The incidents began when Hughes woke Ms Leyland at their home in Wigan swearing and shouting abuse and he then threatened to injure their dog with a knife and break its leg, said Harry Pepper, prosecuting.

Just before 8am he began picking on the boy and threw a bottle which struck him on the knee.

At around lunchtime Hughes, who had taken a cocktail of alcohol and tranquillisers, dragged Ms Leyland by the hair to the floor and punched her in the face, spat at her and forced her out of the house.

Hughes later apologised for his behaviour but in the early hours of the next morning he woke the boy up to send a text message for him and then started abusing him and hitting him.

He also threw DVDs and a roller blind at him and hit him with an electric fan which broke during the incident and cut him on the leg.

In the afternoon Hughes grabbed a kitchen knife and started trying to stab Ms Leyland’s legs but she put a cushion in front of them to protect herself.

However when he plunged the blade into the cushion five or six times she suffered a superficial cut.

Mr Pepper said that when later medically examined she was found to have cuts to her calf and thigh, soreness to the back of her head and a swollen nose.

Her son had a cut to his palm and thigh and scratches and bruising to his foot and shins.

Out-of-work roofer Hughes has previous convictions including criminal damage and harassment involving Ms Leyland.

He pleaded guilty to two offences of assault causing actual bodily harm.

William Swalwell, defending, said that the couple had been together for 12 years.

After losing his job he became depressed and started drinking alcohol and taking tranquillisers.

His partner advised him to seek medical help and he now realises he should have taken her advice.

“He cannot recall a good deal of what happened. He was very much under the influence of Diazapam,” said Mr Swalwell.