Queensferry attempted murder: Community rallies to show support for attack victim

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Staff reporter (Leader Live)

The robbery and knife attack had a significant impact upon the victim and his family but the local community had done their best to rally around and help get him back on his feet, the court heard.

When attacker Matthew Whelan put the knife to the neck of Mr Haq, he thought it was some kind of prank, explained prosecuting barrister John Philpotts.

Whelan was jailed for 20 years on Thursday for attempted murder following the incident on December 8 last year.

“It very soon became clear that what was happening was a robbery,” Mr Philpotts said.

Whelan shouted at him to open the till and the victim’s response was “you can have it” – during his retail career he had adopted a philosophy of zero resistance.

But he later told police how despite his offer simply to take the money, Whelan “started stabbing me”.

The sound was like the sacrificial slaughter of an animal, he explained.

When he went to press the panic alarm the defendant cut his wrist with the knife, severing tendons for which he would require surgery and would mean further time off work.

In addition to the cut to his throat which left him bleeding heavily, the attacker was “hammering on his head” where he also suffered a stab wound.

He had lacerations to the cheek, head and left arm but the three cm wound to the neck was the most serious with the windpipe being cut.

The victim was transferred from the Countess of Chester Hospital to the major trauma unit at the University Hospital in Aintree, Liverpool, where he received a tracheotomy enabling him to breathe through an artificial device.

The wound was clearly potentially life-threatening and it was fortunate it had not damaged vital circulatory structures in the neck, said Mr Philpotts.

“If they had the injury could have been fatal,” he added.

The victim had done his best to defend himself but he was an unarmed middle aged man against a much younger man brandishing a knife.

He had shown a great deal of courage, said Mr Philpotts.

Judge Rhys Rowlands said that during the robbery the victim had been “literally fighting for his life.”

In a victim impact statement Mr Haq told how he had remained in hospital for 12 days after the attack and when he left hospital his neck wound was still an open wound.

The district nurse attended his home to pack the wound to enable it to heal.

His sleep had been affected and he had lost out financially – a great deal more than the £400 taken.

He believed he had lost some £50,000 with the shop being closed for three months, the stock lost which went out of date and the reduced business since he reopened.

His losses had not been covered by his insurance.

The shop had re-opened in March and a councillor and the local community had come together to help him get back on his feet.

His wife and friends had helped clean up the shop and local people cleaned up the car park for him.

Mr Haq said it had been lovely to see the help being given to them after all that they had been through.

He revealed he had found it very difficult to start working at the shop again and had been very nervous.

A member of staff had felt unable to return after what had happened.

Mr Haq had installed more security cameras but had expressed the view that nothing would make him feel more secure again.

His father-in-law became ill in Pakistan and his wife and her brother had been back to support the family.

But Mr Haq had been unable to go to provide support.

His wife and wider family had suffered a great deal.

Whelan told in a pre-sentence report how he had little recollection of the stabbing after spending the day with another drinking alcohol and taking drugs.

Defending barrister Andrew Green said the case was an abject lesson in how a drug addiction could cause untold damage to innocent members of the public.

Mr Haq’s courage was recognised as was the extraordinary support he had been given to enable him to return to work.

Whelan wanted to say that he was sorry for what he had done.

When sober he was able to reflect on what he had done and had shown an insight into what had happened. His behaviour had been fuelled by drugs.

The addiction he had became insatiable after the death of his mother, he continued to binge on drugs and it was the need for money which lay behind his offending.

He had not touched drugs since and had been seeking assistance while in custody.

The court heard the defendant had a lengthy criminal record and in 2011 was convicted of a robbery at a gold shop in Queensferry where he brandished a knife and was jailed for two-and-a-half-years.

He was jailed in 2013 for possessing drugs with intent to supply.

In 2014 he was convicted of possessing a machete and was jailed for eight months.

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