Today (Thursday 27 August) a man has been given a 14-year sentence for attempting to murder his cousin in Hemel Hempstead.
Joel Gregory, of no fixed address, appeared before Luton Crown Court after previously being found guilty of attempted murder last Friday (21 August).
The court heard that on the night of Tuesday 25 February this year, the victim – 18-year-old Bethanie MacSweeney – arranged to go to The Midland pub with her cousin, 20-year-old Gregory.
The pair had one drink there before moving on to Redz Bar in the High Street to play a game of pool. Before arriving at the bar, Gregory hid a knife down an alleyway. They spent several hours in the bar before catching a taxi to Chambersbury Lane, on the edge of Bunker’s Park, just before midnight.
On leaving the taxi they began walking across the park while chatting when without warning, Gregory began attacking his cousin with the 12-inch kitchen knife he had concealed outside Redz Bar earlier that evening.
He stabbed Bethanie 27 times, causing extensive injuries to her face and torso, and defence wounds to her hands. She also lost a tooth during the attack. Gregory then put his hand over her mouth, causing her to fall unconscious.
He left Bethanie lying in the field and ran back to his mother’s home in Leverstock Green, where he burned his clothes in a bid to conceal evidence.
When Bethanie regained consciousness around 15 minutes later, she managed to get up and run towards a nearby house to ask for help. By this time she was bleeding heavily from her injuries and in great distress.
On hearing her cries for help, the occupant of the property called both the police and the ambulance service. Officers arrived at the location within two minutes and paramedics took Bethanie to hospital for treatment.
Gregory was arrested less than two hours later before he was taken into custody and interviewed. He was later charged and remanded back into custody.
In her witness impact statement, Bethanie said: “When I went out with my cousin Joel I thought I would be safe. I trusted him completely, he is my cousin, older than me and a man so I knew he would look after me.
“Even in the moments before he attacked me I felt comfortable with him and had no reason to think he would try and kill me. When the attack started it was so sudden and unexpected. The main thing that I remember is the fear and the feeling that I was going to die, it was so hard to breathe.
“Since the attack I have been having nightmares. The fear is indescribable and I am unable to fully articulate how awful each day is for me. I am going to have counselling and try and rebuild my life. I will never forget or get over what he did to me and I can never forgive him, not for just trying to kill me but for breaching my trust and taking advantage of me.”
Detective Constable Daniel Webb, from the Dacorum Local Crime Unit, was the investigating officers. He said: “I want to pay tribute to the incredible bravery and dignity that Bethanie has shown throughout our investigation into this attack. She has suffered a horrendous ordeal at the hands of someone she trusted.
“She will likely experience the physical and psychological effects for some time to come but importantly, she has a strong support network in place to help her move forward. I wish her all the very best for her future and I hope she is able to take some comfort in today’s court result.
“Gregory has never given a reason as to why he launched such a violent attack on Bethanie, who moments earlier he had told: ‘you’re my favourite cousin’. Not only did he leave her for dead, believing he had killed her, but he then tried to cover up his abhorrent actions by burning his clothes in the hope it would destroy evidence.
“This case has clearly shown that Gregory is both a dangerous and unpredictable individual, and I can only hope he uses his custodial sentence as an opportunity to reflect on the monumental pain he has caused Bethanie and their wider family.”
Once Gregory has served his custodial sentence, he will serve an extended licence period of four years.
Judge Andrew Bright told Gregory he would have to serve two thirds of the custodial term behind bars before the parole board considers his release.