'˜Laughing maniac' carried out frenzied stabbing in Sheffield flat with kitchen knives

A man '˜laughed like a maniac' as he repeatedly stabbed a friend of his ex-partner with a set of kitchen knives in a frenzied attack.

Friday, 19th August 2016, 2:47 pm
Updated Friday, 19th August 2016, 3:49 pm

Nigel Driver, of Middlewood Road, Hillsborough, was jailed for ten years at Sheffield Crown Court on Friday for the horrifying attack on Gary Smith at Driver’s ex-girlfriend’s flat in Porter Brook View, Sharrow Vale in October last year.

Mr Smith was stabbed repeatedly in the neck and chest, suffering a collapsed lung and severe blood loss, as well as going into cardiac arrest and having a stroke that has caused permanent damage to him.

The court heard paramedics believed Mr Smith was going to die when they arrived to treat him and he had to undergo emergency surgery to save his life.

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Driver had gone round to the flat of Catherine Bell after they had split up on the understanding from her that he would be picking up his things while she was out.

But Andrew Long, prosecuting, said when she came home he was still there and an argument began in which 44-year-old Driver was ‘abusive and obnoxious’.

She retreated to the bathroom and called her friend Mr Smith to come around and assist her.

Mr Long said that when Mr Smith came round he punched Driver in the face.

He said: “He told him to leave but the defendant picked up a knife from the kitchen.

“They began to grapple and fell to the floor. The defendant stabbed Gary Smith in the neck. At some point, the first kitchen knife broke and the defendant took two similar knives from the kitchen and continued to stab Mr Smith who was badly wounded.”

Mr Long said Driver was described as ‘laughing like a maniac’ as he continued the near-fatal assault.

“By the time paramedics arrived, Mr Smith was in a very bad way with a collapsed lung and an injury to his artery on the left side of his neck.

“He went into cardiac arrest and his life was undoubtedly saved by the emergency treatment he received.

“He underwent emergency surgery and suffered a stroke as a result of poor blood supply to the brain.”

The attack has also affected Smith’s vision in his left eye.

Mr Long added: “The defendant left the scene and he was seen by a number of witnesses, including someone he knew to whom he said ‘I have stabbed them, I have killed them’.”

He was arrested later that evening by police after being spotted on Mushroom Lane.

Mr Long said a total of four blood-stained kitchen knives were recovered from the flat.

Niall Skinner, representing Driver, said his client had no previous convictions and had never denied his involvement in the incident.

He said: “This is a shocking case. There are some disturbing factors in this case.

“He was attacked first, suffering an injury. What he should have done is leave, but we know what he did and he knows he will pay the penalty for that.”

Mr Skinner read out a letter to the court from Driver apologising for his actions.

“I’m totally sorry for what’s happened. I hate violence, it makes me ill, but I really thought he was going to kill me,” Driver said.

“I regret what happened, I never wanted any of this. I’m just glad he is ok.”

Mr Skinner said: “He is not a bad man, he has just done a bad thing.”

Sentencing, Judge Simon Lawler QC, said he agreed with defence submissions that the attack was ‘totally out of character’.

Judge Lawler said Catherine Bell had called Mr Smith instead of the police as he was concerned about how long it would take officers to get there after Driver refused to leave her flat.

He told Driver: “The prosecution accept that almost instantly Mr Smith assaulted you with what seem to have been a fairly severe punch to your face following an exchange of words.

“Rather than leave in such a volatile situation, you went into the kitchen, grabbed a knife and there followed a violent confrontation during which you stabbed him a number of times.

“Unhappily, you seemed to rather enjoy it.

“While you may have initially been acting in self-defence, you went completely over the top and went on the attack and carried out a second almost frenzied stabbing attack upon him.

“You broke the first knife which indicates the force that must have been used. You went back to get a further two knives and continued the attack.

“On any view, the injuries were life-threatening and potentially fatal.”

Driver had originally been charged with attempted murder but later pleaded guilty to an alternative lesser charge of wounding with intent.

Mr Long said the prosecution had accepted the plea as Catherine Bell, who was the principle witness in the case, had ‘taken against the complainant Gary Smith and aligned herself with the defendant’ since the incident.