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Norwich doorstep stabbing victim suffered history of intimidation

PUBLISHED: 06:45 08 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:58 08 June 2019

Police at the scene of a stabbing in Godric Place in Norwich. Picture Archant.

Police at the scene of a stabbing in Godric Place in Norwich. Picture Archant.

Archant

Criminals tried to drag a stabbing victim into a van as part of a campaign to intimidate him out of giving evidence, we can today reveal.

Ashley Anderson who admitted GBH with intent. Picture: NORFOLK CONSTABULARYAshley Anderson who admitted GBH with intent. Picture: NORFOLK CONSTABULARY

It was one of a series of incidents - and they initially bore fruit when the 40-year-old failed to appear on what would have been the first day of Ashley Anderson's trial.

Drug debt enforcer Anderson, who was yesterday jailed for 13 years with five years' extended licence, was due up for attempted murder on April 30, having initially denied it.

But the trial was adjourned when the victim, who we have chosen not to name, stayed away.

At his Godric Place address, police found his dog - and a note from his mother saying they were "too stressed" to come to court.

Police at the scene of a stabbing in Godric Place in Norwich. Picture: Victoria PertusaPolice at the scene of a stabbing in Godric Place in Norwich. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

It emerged that threats had been made, including an attempt by two men to drag the victim into a van. He was also approached in a park by a man who told him not to give evidence.

Yesterday, at Anderson's sentencing at Norwich Crown Court, Judge Steven Holt said he was a danger to the public.

The court heard Anderson, 26, from London, tried to force his way into the flat during a frantic struggle on November 21, before the victim managed to end the assault by closing the door.

Anderson was arrested the next day and was due to go on trial for attempted murder.

Police at the scene of a stabbing in Godric Place in Norwich. Picture: Victoria PertusaPolice at the scene of a stabbing in Godric Place in Norwich. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

However, despite threats made to the victim which caused a delay to the start of the trial, Anderson pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, explained there was a drugs background to the case which had the hallmarks of an enforcement of a drugs debt.

He said that the victim was a drug addict and when there was a knock at the door he thought it was a friend.

He said when he opened the door it was in fact Anderson armed with a large knife and he was stabbed before he managed to end the attack by closing the door.

Detective Inspector Chris Burgess. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.Detective Inspector Chris Burgess. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

"Anderson succeeded in inflicting two serious stab wounds, the most serious was in his chest."

He said the wound punctured the victim's lung and was "potentially fatal".

He said there was no evidence that Anderson played any part in any threats but said in a statement the victim said the incident had left him feeling unsafe to come out of his home.

The court heard that Anderson had a number of serious previous convictions including GBH with intent in 2010, possession of an imitation firearm and he had been sentenced to eight years for robbery and burglary in April 2012.

Flat in Godric Place where Danny Williams used to live which is still boarded up more than a year after Farnaz Ali's murder. PIC: Peter WalshFlat in Godric Place where Danny Williams used to live which is still boarded up more than a year after Farnaz Ali's murder. PIC: Peter Walsh

Judge Stephen Holt said that Anderson, who appeared over a video link from Norwich prison, posed a significant risk to the public and imposed an 18-year extended sentence made up of 13 years in custody and five years' extended licence.

He said the report showed that Anderson showed no fear of authority and said he had gone to the scene of the attack armed with a knife.

Although he had not issued any threats to the witness, he said he was sure that the fact the witness finally turned up at court played some part in him pleading guilty.

"There is no doubt this had a traumatic effect on the victim and his family and his mother, who witnessed this attack on her son."

Farnaz Ali. (Facebook with permission)Farnaz Ali. (Facebook with permission)

Christopher Stimpson, for Anderson, said that the previous serious offending was when he was a teenager, and said that he deserved credit for the guilty plea.

At a previous hearing, Mr Jackson told Judge Stephen Holt there "appeared to be a history of intimidation" involving the victim.

He said in January 9 the victim went to Earlham Police Station and told an officer he had "picked out the wrong man" and wanted to withdraw his statement.

On January 17 he had a panic alarm fitted at his home, and a day later he activated it.

27-year-old Danny Williams of Godric Place in Norwich was convicted by a jury following a two-week trial at Norwich Crown Court. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary27-year-old Danny Williams of Godric Place in Norwich was convicted by a jury following a two-week trial at Norwich Crown Court. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

The victim told police a van pulled up next to him and two men tried to drag him into it.

In another police interview, he told officers that on January 9 he had been walking in Jenny Lind Park and was threatened by a number of men. One of them grabbed him and said that he was to tell police that he was the one who stabbed him, not Anderson.

Following police searches, the victim, along with his brother and mother, were found and said they had been subjected to intimidation.

He was kept in a safe place and came to court on May 2 to give evidence. But before the trial began Anderson, from London, admitted an alternative charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.

Detective praises bravery of Norwich stabbing victim

The detective who led the investigation into a Norwich knife attack has praised the bravery of the victim.

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Detective Inspector Chris Burgess headed the probe into finding those responsible for the doorstep stabbing,

The case had a murky background, with links to the drugs world.

And while Mr Burgess said he could not reveal all the detail, he admitted it was a "very difficult" case.

Threats and intimidation of the victim made it all the more difficult, but Mr Burgess said police were determined to keep the case on track given the "seriousness" of the offence.

Since the stabbing the victim has been subject to a "history of intimidation", with pressure being put on him at various stages over the past few months, including just before the trial, not to give evidence.

But the victim still attended court.

Det Insp Burgess said: "It's been important for us through the investigation to make sure the victim is looked after and supported and that has had its complexities but fortunately the victim did show himself to be very brave and followed it through and because of that we got this conviction at court."

Doorstep stab attack took place close to Norwich murder scene

The stab attack in November last year brought police back to Godric Place where they had been just a year before following the murder of Farnaz Ali.

Danny Williams, of Godric Place, Norwich, was jailed for 24 years in September 2018 after being convicted of murdering his neighbour.

Ms Ali, 49, was found with 59 injuries after being attacked with a hammer in Williams' flat in July 2017 after she had gone round to complain about loud music which had been coming from his flat.

Williams, then 27, had denied murder but a jury of seven women and five men took a little over three hours to find him guilty following the trial.

Sentencing Williams, Judge Stephen Holt described the attack as "brutal and sustained" and said: "You used aweapon, a hammer, to inflict at least 36 blows to her head."

He said she was a defenceless victim and felt there was sexual conduct in the case.

'I feel very nervous' - Norwich neighbourhood trying to come to terms with murder and stabbing

Godric Place was slowly returning to normal following the murder of Farnaz Ali, in July 2017, when it was rocked once more by a doorstep stabbing in November last year.

There is now a weekly police presence in the neighbourhood where people are still trying to come to terms with the events of the past year or so.

A 76-year-old man, who did not want to be named, said: "I feel very nervous. The first incident, the murder, was a one-off.

"But we seem to be getting involved in drugs. You do see the drugs pick ups going on here. You're very nervous about being out there because you can see things going on and you don't want to get involved."

A 77-year-old man, who has lived there for 35 years, said: "It was a lovely estate when I first came up here but there's funny things go on.

"I was devastated about what happened to Farnaz and I heard about the stabbing up here which was all to do with drugs.

"You never know what is going to happen next. I make sure my door is locked. I keep myself to myself. "

"I feel reassured that police are up here but I have no problems."

Knife crime on the rise in Norfolk

The door-step knife attack in Godric Place comes at a time when Norwich has seen a significant rise in knife crime.

Figures released earlier this year by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed police recorded 286 offences which involved a knife and sharp object between January and December 2018, a threefold increase compared to 2012 when it was just 97.

The figures also showed that between April 2017 and March 2018 police recorded 220 offences involving a knife compared to just 77 over the same period between April 2013 and March 2014, which represents an 185pc increase in knife offences in the county over six years.

In March a week of action, aimed at reducing knife crime in Norfolk, saw a total of 237 knives handed in, including machetes, samurai swords, hunting knives and flick knives. Of those, 127 of the blades were handed in to the force in Norwich, 67 in Great Yarmouth, and 43 in King's Lynn.

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