Penknife attacker wounded 'twiglet' victim on birthday night out

The scene of the attack.
The scene of the attack.

A man who attacked a passerby with a penknife has failed to convince top judges that his "stiff" sentence should be slashed.

David Weatherby, 45, of Hutton Avenue, Hartlepool, injured 25-year-old Alistair Griffiths - who described himself as being "built like a twiglet" - with the blade.

Weatherby and another man had "apparently been drinking" and were sitting on a bench near the civic centre in Victoria Road on September 28 last year.

Mr Griffiths, 25, and two friends, who had been out celebrating a birthday, walked past.

There was an "unpleasant exchange" between the two groups but "no more than that", Mr Justice William Davis told London's Appeal Court.

However Weatherby decided to get up and follow the trio. He had a bunch of keys on him, with a penknife attached to it.

This was a "legitimate item he was entitled to have", said the judge,

But he went up to Mr Griffiths and, during a "tussle", took out the knife and caused a wound to the inside of his elbow.

Weatherby was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm at Teesside Crown Court.

He was acquitted of a second count of the same charge and of having an offensive weapon. He was caged for 15 months on July 29.

The judge who jailed him said Mr Griffiths' injury was an "unpleasant little wound".

And it would be a long time before the victim was able to get over the psychological impact "of being stabbed in the street".

Lawyers for Weatherby today argued his jail term was far too tough and ought to be cut.

They pointed to the "superficial nature" of the injury, his previous good character, it being a single blow and an isolated incident.

He posed a low risk of re-offending and his jail term could have been suspended, they argued.

Crown lawyers told the court that Mr Griffiths described himself as "five foot nothing" and "built like a twiglet".

The sentencing judge was 'best placed' to judge the level of harm caused to the victim, they said.

Mr Justice Davis agreed the judge was 'entitled' to reach the conclusion he did in relation to harm caused.

It was the 'judge's discretion' to decide whether to suspend the sentence or not, he added.

While "undoubtedly a stiff sentence", the appeal judge, who was sitting with Mr Justice Hickinbottom, '"could not quarrel with it".

The appeal was dismissed.