Soldier faces jail after stabbing friend

A SUFFOLK soldier is facing a jail term after a jury found him guilty of attempting to murder his best friend during an argument about cigarettes.The jury sitting at Ipswich Crown Court unanimously found Michael Rutherford, 30, guilty of attempting to murder Lance Corporal James Walker - a friend he thought of as a brother - during the argument at RAF Honington.

A SUFFOLK soldier is facing a jail term after a jury found him guilty of attempting to murder his best friend during an argument about cigarettes.

The jury sitting at Ipswich Crown Court unanimously found Michael Rutherford, 30, guilty of attempting to murder Lance Corporal James Walker - a friend he thought of as a brother - during the argument at RAF Honington.

Rutherford had already admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm but denied the more serious charge of attempted murder.

The jury returned their guilty verdict yesterday after two hours of deliberations.


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Earlier Rutherford had claimed he had not intended to kill his friend but had taken the combat fighting knife to confront Mr Walker in the hope of shaking hands and resolving their dispute.

Giving evidence on the final day of the trial, Rutherford told the court: “We've always made up in the past so I thought we would make up again.

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“I thought we could have shook on it, then it would have been finished.

“It happened so quickly, it was just a flash. By the time I took the knife out of my pocket it was already in, it had already happened.”

Rutherford and Mr Walker, who were both in the Royal Army Corps and were based at RAF Honington, had spent the evening drinking with friends in the single men's quarters when the argument broke out in June this year.

Mr Walker, 25, felt Rutherford had a habit of smoking other people's cigarettes without ever buying any of his own. A scuffle broke out between the pair, during which Mr Walker put his thumbs in Rutherford's eyes.

The fight was broken up by another soldier but Rutherford returned to confront Mr Walker about an injury to one of his eyes, which was bleeding.

Rutherford told the court: “I wanted an explanation for it because nothing like this had ever happened before. I wanted to know the reason why he did it.

“I thought I could back him off or warn him away.

“I put the knife out in front of me and it went into him. I didn't realise what had happened, I didn't believe it.”

Mr Walker was stabbed in the chest and suffered a punctured lung. Doctors found one of his ribs had been cut in half and another had been sawn through.

He spent four days in hospital and it took him two-and-a-half months to recover from his injuries.

During the trial he told the court he had been concerned he was going to die.

Robert Sadd, prosecuting, disputed Rutherford's version that he had not intended to kill his friend.

He said: “It was you who decided to bring the knife out from behind you, it was you who decided to stab him.”

After the jury returned their verdict Judge John Devaux order a pre-sentence report be completed. Rutherford is expected to be sentenced in early January.

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