It was ‘merciful’ that a young man who was attacked with a meat cleaver as he walked home from work at a Rugby pub late at night did not have his neck severed by the blow, a court heard.
A 19-year-old victim had a lucky escape but has been left permanently scarred after the cleaver sliced through his ear, Warwick Crown Court was told.
His attacker Jordan Ramsay was given what is known as an extended prison sentence after pleading guilty to wounding with intent and possessing a bladed article.
Ramsay, 24, of Wentworth Road, Overslade, Rugby, who also admitted further offences of threatening with a weapon, causing damage and assault, was jailed for seven years and two months.
Because it is part of an extended sentence, he will have to serve at least two-thirds of that period, and will then only be released when the Parole Board considers it safe to do so.
Once he is released, he will be on licence for the rest of the prison term and for a further five years.
Prosecutor Balvinder Bhatti said that in June last year 19-year-old Scott Cluley left work at a Rugby pub at closing time and was walking along Collingswood Avenue with a friend when they saw two men on the opposite side of the road.
As they continued walking, they glanced at the two men, who were shouting and acting aggressively.
Ramsey then crossed the road towards them, shouting into Mr Cluley’s face: “Have you got a problem, big man?”
Then, saying ‘I’ve got something for you,’ he reached into the bag he was carrying and pulled out a large meat cleaver, which Judge Andrew Lockhart QC described as ‘a fearsome weapon.’
Ramsay brandished it towards Mr Cluley, who backed away with his hands raised in a defensive stance, and his friend tried to reach into her bag to get her phone – but was ordered to keep her hands in front of her.
Mr Cluley continued to back away, but did not make a run for it because he did not want to desert his friend.
Ramsay then raised the cleaver and swung it at Mr Cluley, hitting him to the side of his head and slicing his ear in two, and then walked away as his victim fell to the ground with blood pouring from the wound.
Judge Lockhart commented: “There must have been an intention to cause more harm than was caused, because there was a meat cleaver swung down at someone’s head or neck. It could have almost decapitated him.”
When Ramsay was arrested he denied being responsible and gave an alibi that was not supported, but he was also identified by both Mr Cluley and his friend.
Despite that, he was given bail, and at the end of July he became involved in an argument with his girlfriend, during which he smashed a bottle on the pavement and threatened her, pushing it towards her face, and also damaged the wing mirror of a car.
Two weeks later there was a further incident, captured by a CCTV camera, in which Ramsay followed his girlfriend, arguing with her as she repeatedly tried to walk away from him.
He then ran up to her in Norman Road, grabbed her and pulled her to the ground before dragging her around, said Miss Bhatti, who added that Ramsey had previous convictions, but none for violence.
Hugh Williams, defending, said: “It was a thoroughly awful offence, and the fact is he should never have been carrying this weapon,” but asked the judge not to find Ramsey ‘dangerous.’
But jailing Ramsay, Judge Lockhart told him: “You were in possession of a very large cleaver, and you struck down with that meat cleaver towards his head or neck. It is merciful it did not sever part of his neck.
“He was left with his ear being cut in half, effectively. There was a 4cm cut which will leave him with a permanent scar.
“In my view, even that offence alone would have been potentially significant enough to find you to be a dangerous offender, but then on bail you took up another dangerous weapon.
“I am driven to conclude you do present a clear and present danger.”