Stabbings man calls to say 'sorry'

The daughter of a man who was subjected to a frenzied knife attack at a hotel was left "gobsmacked" after her father's attacker phoned her to say sorry.

The daughter of a man who was subjected to a frenzied knife attack at a hotel was left "gobsmacked" after her father's attacker phoned her to say sorry.

Derek Thrower, 63, was left fighting for his life after United States airman Lorenzo Sanchez burst into his room at the Wherry Hotel, Oulton Broad, and stabbed him 13 times.

Earlier this year Sanchez was found not guilty by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court of attempted murder for the attack in May, 2005 by reason of insanity. But now the former staff sergeant at RAF Mildenhall, who was discharged from the United States Air Force after the hearing, has contacted Mr Thrower's daughter, Karen Griggs, to apologise.

Mrs Griggs said: "I have to say I was gobsmacked when I picked up the phone to find him on the other end.

"I asked him if he could give any explanation, or indeed could he remember what happened? He still maintains he cannot, and that night is still a blur.

"He admitted he has been discharged from the USAF. He said he is now attending college in the hope of gaining qualifications to study psychology due to what he did."

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She added: "He asked after my father and the rest of the family. I was very civil to him, although I explained that time had made me that way and if I had seen him at the hospital or, indeed, soon after, the situation would have been different.

"He said he understood completely and did not blame either myself or my father for our feelings.

"I must say it was very odd speaking to him, and, despite feeling the way I do, it has made me more relaxed about the whole situation.

"I told my father, and I think perhaps Sanchez may feel the same way, because he did actually apologise to me and my family for what happened."

After the attack, Mr Thrower, who moved to France from Suffolk four years ago, said he hoped Sanchez would contact him one day to explain why he had stabbed him.

Mrs Griggs was first contacted by Sanchez's family, who live in La Luz, New Mexico, then two weeks later by Sanchez. Mrs Griggs said: "His mother was so upset and so sorry for what happened. The family are very religious, and his mother and also Sanchez said that they all pray for us every day.

"It took him two weeks to pluck up the courage to ring me - understand-able, I think, given the circumstances."

Mr Thrower said he had Sanchez's number and had not been in contact with him yet, though he did not rule out the possibility of speaking directly to his attacker in the future.