The family of a young woman whose lover plunged a knife into her chest are furious after two juries failed to convict him.
David Martin narrowly missed the heart of his ex-girlfriend Kate Taylor after she told him their relationship was over. He invited her into his car before stabbing her, leaving the weapon four inches into her chest.
Two juries failed to convict Martin, 31, of wounding with intent, which carries a life sentence. Instead, he has only been sentenced for unlawful wounding, a lesser charge.
He told Newcastle Crown Court he “did not mean” to stab Miss Taylor and the injury was caused as he tried to “get her attention”.
Now her angry mother Beverley, 58, has hit out saying: “If he had hit her body and lungs and we had a body on our hands. Kate is going to be looking over her shoulder for the rest of her life.”
Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of national domestic violence charity Refuge, said: “I was appalled to hear of Kate’s ordeal and am deeply alarmed this violent man is free to walk the streets. Domestic violence is a massive social problem. It is a problem that kills two women every single week in England and Wales.
“Refuge would like to see more domestic violence specialists being called to give expert evidence in domestic violence cases. These specialists will help to inform the jury’s understanding of the complex risks and dynamics.”
Polly Neate, chief executive at Women’s Aid, added: “The way the justice system deals with instances of domestic violence simply does not reflect the seriousness of the problem. Men who abuse their partners regularly escape with insubstantial sentences, when they are even brought to court at all.”
Prosecutors did not seek a third trial over the attack, accepting Martin’s plea to unlawful wounding, which carries a maximum sentence of five years. Martin must abide by a restraining order which prevents him from contacting Miss Taylor.
Miss Taylor, 24, told jurors: “I thought he was trying to grab me and kiss me, then obviously I realised what was happening. There was just blood everywhere and obviously I saw the knife, or part of the knife, coming out of my chest and in his hand. I thought I was going to die because of where the wound was.”
Martin, of Thorney Close, Sunderland, had been carrying the knife around in a rucksack while thinking about harming himself, the court heard. Chris Enzor, deputy chief crown prosecutor for the CPS North East Area, stressed careful consideration had been given to the case.
He said: “Following the first trial of David Martin in March 2013 the jury acquitted him of attempted murder and were unable to reach a verdict in relation to the charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
“The CPS sought a re-trial for the offence of wounding with intent to commit grievous bodily harm.
“Before the trial commenced Martin entered guilty pleas to the less serious offences of unlawful wounding and possession of an offensive weapon. We continued to pursue the retrial, which allowed the court to consider the more serious offence and the alleged intent of the defendant.
“This took place in September 2013, following which this jury also failed to reach a verdict.
“In accordance with CPS guidance for prosecutors, third trials can only be sought in exceptional circumstances. We therefore formally accepted David Martin’s pleas to unlawful wounding and possession of an offensive weapon and the defendant was subsequently sentenced to 20 months imprisonment.”