Stabbing victim wants answers from USAF

A SUFFOLK man who nearly died at the hands of an American serviceman has demanded answers from military bosses who he claims should be held accountable for the attack.

A SUFFOLK man who nearly died at the hands of an American serviceman has demanded answers from military bosses who he claims should be held accountable for the attack.

Derek Thrower last night vowed to fight for compensation from the United States Airforce over his terrifying ordeal last May, when he was stabbed 13 times by RAF Mildenhall-based Staff Sergeant Lorrenzo Sanchez.

A spokesman for the Department of Defence in the US yesterday said they were looking into the matter.

Mr Thrower, who lived in Mildenhall before moving to France with his family four-years-ago, has not been able to work properly since the attack, which left him with a punctured lung, a severed tendon in his arm, and a hole in his lung.

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On Thursday, Sanchez, 28, walked free from Ipswich Crown Court after a jury found him not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity.

“My family and I feel very strongly that someone needs to take responsibility over what has happened,” said Mr Thrower, 63.

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“This man may well have been suffering from a mental illness of some kind, which he claims was, in part, possibly brought on by his military training and being sent out to Iraq, but then I think the military or US Government needs to take accountability for what has happened.”

Sanchez had been staying at the Wherry Hotel, in Oulton Broad, ahead of a survival training course when he burst into Mr Thrower's adjacent room and stabbed him 13 times in his neck, arm and chest.

During Thursday's court hearing, Judge John Devaux ordered an absolute discharge, and decided not to place a hospital or supervision order on Sanchez because he had already spent seven months in prison, and five months on conditional bail.

Sanchez, who is thought to soon be leaving the country, was - according to witnesses at the Wherry Hotel - in a trance like state at the time of the attack.

“My family and I have been devastated by the outcome of the trial and we have been reflecting on what to do next,” said Mr Thrower, who was staying in the hotel whilst on a brief business trip from France.

“I have been advised to find a lawyer in America who would be willing to take on the case on a no-win, no-fee basis, and this is something I am looking into.

“But we will not let the matter rest, and I refuse to give up until someone takes responsibility for this man and what he has done, and I just hope the US military doesn't turn its back on this matter.

“This has not been closure for me or my family, and we now have to cope with the fact the person that did this is walking around a free-man.

“It is a tragedy which should never have happened in the first place in a beautiful, sleepy county like Suffolk, and I think people deserve to know something is being done about it.”

A spokesman for RAF Mildenhall said last night: “Testimony and court proceedings established that Staff Sgt Lorrenzo Sanchez attacked a British national with a knife and caused life-threatening injuries.

“The United States Air Force and RAF Mildenhall extends its deepest regret to the victim of this attack and others affected by the incident.

“At trial the court found that Staff Sgt Sanchez was not guilty by reason of insanity. His trial took place by the laws of the United Kingdom, in a British court of law because UK authorities exercised jurisdiction over the incident.

“US policy prevents a subsequent criminal prosecution by the USAF.”

He added: “Any specific questions about the ruling or outcome of the trial and what it means to the UK community are matters best answered by the court, constabulary and the prosecution service.

“In terms of any actions that the USAF may take involving Staff Sgt Sanchez, it's not the practice of the USAF to routinely disclose personal actions.

“US law protects the privacy of most administrative actions that, unlike criminal actions, are not public proceedings.”

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