Burnley teenager knifed cabbie

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A SCHIZOPHRENIC teenager who knifed a Burnley taxi driver in the face has been locked up for six years and eight months.

Burnley Crown Court heard Aftab Uddin was covered in blood after the sudden and unprovoked midnight attack by passenger William Sutherland, then 18, last December.

Sutherland, who had also been armed with a hammer, struck after Mr Uddin picked up the defendant and two others in Burnley. The defendant had assaulted a female friend two days before, punching her in the face. He was not long out of custody and was tagged.

The court heard the defendant, who had 15 offences on his record, had now been assessed by a psychiatrist for the first time. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was on medication.

Sutherland (19), of Arkwright Street, Burnley, admitted wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and battery. He was sent to a young offenders’ institution. Stephen Parker (prosecuting) said Sutherland was in the front passenger seat of the cab and appeared slightly drunk.

As the taxi was on Springhill Road, the defendant shouted “stop” and Mr Uddin pulled over. Sutherland took out a hammer and pulled a knife from an inside pocket.

Sutherland hit the victim two or three times in the mouth, Mr Uddin grabbed his attacker’s right hand to defend himself and the defendant stabbed him in his face.

Philip Holden (defending) said: “The signs are that if the defendant is being compliant the risk will be reduced.”

Judge Beverly Lunt told the defendant: “At last, somebody has had you properly assessed by a psychiatrist and you have now been diagnosed with a problem, you are being medicated for that problem and the medication is working.”

Judge Lunt added there had been failings by those who had care of Sutherland, while he had been subject to non-custodial sentences.