A TEENAGER who slashed his one-time best friend’s face in a fight walked free from court – because the victim brought the knife and had started the violence.
Burnley Crown Court heard how Russell Metcalfe had to have a blood transfusion and stitches, after he suffered a cut from his eyebrow to his temple and a laceration from his temple to his ear. It may be one, 5cm gash and was described by a surgeon as quite deep. He had been left scarred and with permanent difficulty raising his eyebrow due to underlying nerve damage.
The hearing had been told how Mr Metcalfe had produced the weapon and also threw the first punch in the trouble between he and Mark O’Mara.
O’Mara (19) who started offending when he was 15 and was said to have tried the patience of the Youth Offending Team, had admitted wounding. The defendant, of Saltburn Street, Burnley, was given 16 months in detention, suspended for two years.
Charlotte Holland (prosecuting) said last September 21st, Mr Metcalfe had been drinking beer and vodka and he told police he had also snorted cocaine.
By the early hours, he was drunk and was at a friend’s flat. The defendant arrived and he accused Mr Metcalfe of chatting up his girlfriend. He became aggressive, challenged the victim to come outside, Mr Metcalfe did, and must have taken the knife with him. The two men squared up, Mr Metcalfe threw the first punch, blows were exchanged in the fight and O’Mara then ran away.
Miss Holland said the defendant was arrested at 5-25am, had a cut hand and claimed: “They attacked me.” Mr Metcalfe had been taken to hospital for treatment. O’Mara gave no answers when questioned by police.
Mark Stuart (prosecuting) said he was appalled because at one time he and the complainant were very good friends. He was extremely sorry for what happened.
The barrister continued: “This defendant had not himself gone armed or tooled up.” Mr Stuart, who told the court the defendant was said to have ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiance disorder), added: “Despite the fact he has tested the patience of the Youth Offending Team, he has never previously lost his liberty. This was a one-off, in my submission.”
Passing sentence, Judge Beverly Lunt said the injury was very nasty and the victim had “learnt his lesson the hard way” of taking a knife to a fight.
The judge said she was suspending the term of custody because of the “very unusual set of circumstances” and the “bizarre features” of the case. She told O’Mara: “If the victim had not produced and brought the knife , he would never have suffered this injury at all. It’s that straightforward.” But, Judge Lunt added: “Stop behaving like a violent idiot.”