Soldier jailed seven years for attack
A SUFFOLK soldier who attempted to murder his best friend in an argument over cigarettes has been given a seven-year jail term.Michael Rutherford, a member of the Royal Army Corps at RAF Honington, was branded a danger to the public during his sentencing hearing at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday.
A SUFFOLK soldier who attempted to murder his best friend in an argument over cigarettes has been given a seven-year jail term.
Michael Rutherford, a member of the Royal Army Corps at RAF Honington, was branded a danger to the public during his sentencing hearing at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday.
The 30-year-old was jailed after stabbing Lance Corporal James Walker in the chest and puncturing his lung following an argument on June 24. Doctors found one of his ribs had been cut in half and another sawn through.
Judge John Devaux, sentencing, ordered Rutherford to serve a minimum of three-and-a-half years of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. This includes the 199 days he has already spent in custody since being arrested. Rutherford was found guilty of attempted murder following a trial in December.
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He had admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm but had denied intending to kill.
The court heard a scuffle broke between Rutherford and L-Cpl Walker on a night out at RAF Honington. L-Cpl Walker felt Rutherford had a habit of smoking other people's cigarettes without ever buying his own.
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Jurors were told L-Cpl Walker had earlier placed his thumbs in Rutherford's eyes as the dispute escalated. This incident was broken up by another soldier but Rutherford later returned to confront his friend about an injury to one of his eyes, which was bleeding.
Rutherford invited the victim into another room, where he inflicted the wound.
Ipswich Crown Court heard both men, who were in the Royal Army Corps at RAF Honington, had been drinking with friends in the single men's quarters on the night in question.
Ian James, mitigating, said Rutherford's act had been “impulsive” rather than “premeditated”, adding he had been provoked.
Mr James said Rutherford's army career now lies in tatters, which acted as punishment in itself.
He also told the court all his convictions related to his alcohol problem, which dates back to the breakdown of his marriage five years ago.
Rutherford's previous convictions included possession of a blade, battery and affray.
Judge Devaux, who recommended Rutherford remain on license for at least ten years, said: “Your previous convictions are an aggravating feature. They also go to indicate that you're dangerous and the public needs protecting from you.
“I've concluded there's a significant risk you could commit further offences.”