Northern Ireland

Belfast man jailed for stabbing his sleeping grandmother

Belfast Crown Court
Image caption Judge McFarland deemed William Cuthbert 'dangerous'

A man has been jailed for stabbing his grandmother in the chest.

William Cuthbert, 29, was "off his head on drink and drugs" when he attacked the pensioner while she slept in their east Belfast home in June 2017.

She suffered a laceration to her lung and a defensive wound to her arm.

At Belfast Crown Court on Tuesday Cuthbert, whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry, was jailed for 28-months with a further two years on licence.

'Don't hurt me'

Belfast Crown Court heard that during the attack, the elderly victim said, "Please Willy, don't hurt me."

Despite attending hospital and allowing police to access her medical records, the injured pensioner did not make a complaint against her grandson, and did not co-operate for a victim impact report.

Outlining the crown's case, prosecution barrister Kate McKay said police were called to Trillick Court on June 22 last year following a report that a woman had been stabbed in the chest.

Ms McKay said the caller - a granddaughter of the woman stabbed - told police her grandmother had been sleeping in the living room when she sustained a stab wound to her chest.

The caller also said her grandfather "came into the living room and saw the defendant standing over his grandmother with a steak knife in his hand."

The grandfather recognised the knife came from his kitchen, and an ambulance was called.

Under the influence

The court heard that during Cuthbert's arrest, the PSNI's armed support unit was called in to assist.

Ms McKay said that prior to the stabbing, police had seen Cuthbert in the street, were concerned for his well-being as he seemed to be under the influence or drink and/or drugs and had brought him back to the home he shared with his grandparents.

During police interviews, Cuthbert gave a 'no comment' response. He later admitted the offence.

Telling the court Cuthbert had a relevant criminal record, Ms McKay said: "There seems to be no motive, there was no bad feeling between him and his grandmother. The trigger is whatever he was under the influence of."

'Off his head'

Defence barrister Denis Boyd said his client's attack on his grandmother was "not a pre-planned or well thought out attack ... it was something that was committed under the influence of drink and drugs. He was simply off his head on drink and drugs and doesn't know what he was doing. He couldn't remember anything, in fact."

Mr Boyd said Cuthbert was "absolutely devastated" by what he did - especially as he was brought up by his grandparents after he suffered "appalling abuse as a child". This abuse, Mr Boyd said, resulted in Cuthbert being diagnosed with a range of mental health issues.

Saying his client had expressed genuine remorse, the defence barrister also revealed that whilst in remand Cuthbert has been attending programmes to tackle his addiction issues.

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