The victim was attacked by serial offender Benjamin William Paton as he slept – and prosecutors told the Royal Court yesterday that given the location of the injuries it was ‘luck’ they were not worse. The victim has made a full recovery from the 2.1cm ‘superficial wound’.
Paton pleaded guilty to grave and criminal assault in May.
It was heard yesterday that the 21-year-old defendant, who was jailed last year for breaching a restraining order imposed for indecent assaults and making threats to kill a teenager, sharpened a broken plastic piece of cutlery from the prison canteen with a razor blade.
The victim, the Crown say, suffered difficulty sleeping following the incident and felt isolated in prison as he was verbally abused by friends of the defendant.
Crown Advocate Conrad Yates, prosecuting, said the fact that Paton had sourced his weapon – known as a shiv – and then spent time sharpening it with a razor blade days before the attack, showed a degree of premeditation ‘which made it different from other cases that come before this court’.
Delivering the sentence, the Bailiff, Sir William Bailhache, said: ‘Fortunately, he [the victim] was not badly injured but you were not to know that and it could have been quite serious. Fortunately for you it was not.
‘The Crown moves for three years in prison and rightly says the complainant had the right to think he was safe in a cell he shared with you. The use of a weapon is certainly a serous matter and there is no doubt the court must impose a custodial sentence.’
Sir William noted, though, that the defendant, who has an extensive criminal record, had a difficult childhood, and said the Crown had not given enough weight to Paton’s youth.
‘It does not have to be like this. You can change your life around and while you are serving the rest of your sentence you should give that some serious thought. I sentence you to 18 months in prison,’ Sir William said.
Outlining the case, Advocate Yates said tensions had risen between the defendant and his cellmate in the days leading up to the attack on 15 January, because of Paton’s ‘tough man’ ‘bossy’ attitude and the fact they had different sleeping patterns and liked to watch different television programmes.
The Royal Court’s Inferior Number heard that on Sunday 13 January the defendant shouted at his cellmate in the middle of the night because he was snoring.
‘Shut the f*** up. Keep your noise down, otherwise I will knock you out and smash your head,’ said the defendant, according to the Crown.
Describing the attack, Advocate Yates said: ‘The complainant was asleep on his back, he woke up with the defendant slashing at his throat and punching him to the face.
‘The complainant could feel pain to the left side of his neck and felt one punch to the left side of his jaw.’
The advocate added that moments after the attack, Paton called prison guards on the intercom system saying: ‘You need to get me out now, as I am about to smash this guy up.’
Advocate James Bell, defending, said his client was only 21 and had the support of his stepfather and girlfriend. Jurats Steven Austin-Vautier and Sally Sparrow were sitting.