Stabbing victim's anger at court verdict

A BUSINESSMAN who nearly died after he was stabbed 13 times has spoken of his shock and horror after his attacker walked free from court.Derek Thrower said it was “beyond comprehension” that American airman Lorrenzo Sanchez had escaped a jail sentence after a jury found him not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity.

A BUSINESSMAN who nearly died after he was stabbed 13 times has spoken of his shock and horror after his attacker walked free from court.

Derek Thrower said it was “beyond comprehension” that American airman Lorrenzo Sanchez had escaped a jail sentence after a jury found him not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity.

And he warned, in his view, Sanchez - a staff sergeant at RAF Mildenhall - was a “walking time bomb and a danger to himself and those around him”.

Mr Thrower, 63, who lived in Mildenhall until moving to the French province of Brittany four years ago, was staying at the Wherry Hotel, in Oulton Broad, when the incident happened on May 11 last year.


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Sanchez, who had been staying at the hotel ahead of a survival training course, broke into Mr Thrower's room, which was next door to his own, after a night out drinking with colleagues.

He apologised and left, but returned moments later with a knife and stabbed Mr Thrower in the neck, arm and chest, puncturing his lung, severing a tendon in his arm, and leaving him with a hole in his diaphragm.

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During the hearing at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday, Judge John Devaux decided not to place a hospital or supervision order on Sanchez because he had already spent seven months in prison, and a further five months on conditional bail. He ordered an absolute discharge.

“The court is restricted in the way it can deal with you,” he told Sanchez. “I take a pragmatic view because you intend to leave this country shortly after this case.”

Twenty-eight-year old Sanchez, who carried out the attack in front of several members of hotel staff, said he had been under immense stress when the incident occurred.

He had learned about a relationship between his wife and another man and had called her on the day in question to tell her he wanted a divorce. Several witnesses at the trial said Sanchez appeared to be in a trance-like state at the time of the attack.

However, neurological tests to prove his mental state had since come back as normal.

Speaking from his home in France last night, Mr Thrower, who lives with his wife, Barbara, their daughter and two young grandchildren, said he had been left with both physical and emotional scars as a result of the terrifying incident.

“It is hard to describe how it felt to have a man break into your room at 2am when you are asleep, and tell you that you are going to die,” he said.

“At first I thought I was being punched, but then I realised he was stabbing me with a knife.”

Mr Thrower, who owns his own company repairing machinery, had travelled to Lowestoft on business two days before the attack took place.

“I am quite a fit man and somehow I was able to get the knife off him and cut his leg, but someone else might not have been as lucky to come out the room alive,” he said.

“I was in hospital for two weeks, but the surgeons did not operate on me at first because they did not think I was going to make it. I was told afterwards it was a miracle I had survived.

“My physical injuries are a lot better, although I get out of breath quickly due to bronchitis partly brought on by the attack, and I have been told my lung may never heal properly. I have also lost around 40% of the use of my hand, and I cannot do heavy work when it comes to my job, which has meant I have lost out financially.

“But I also struggle mentally with what has happened, and it has been a very difficult thing to come to terms with, particularly for my family. I am utterly shocked and disgusted with the outcome of the court case. It is a hard thing to accept, and to think this man is walking free is scary.”

A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: “The issue the jury had to decide was whether Mr Sanchez was in a state of disassociation when he attacked the victim.

“The court heard medical evidence as to the state of mind of Mr Sanchez at the time of the incident and it was the duty of the jury to decide whether Mr Sanchez was in complete control of his functions at the time of the assault.”

A spokesman for RAF Mildenhall was unavailable for comment last night.

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