A violent thug has been jailed for 10 years for a drunken attack after he punched a friend and took a knife to him.
Younes Benmohammed, 45, denied assaulting Wasim Aziz, 36, causing him GBH with intent. But a jury found him guilty of what a judge described as a “vicious and prolonged” attack.
Sussex Police said: “When Benmohammed and his victim were alone at the end of the night, he started to verbally abuse him. What followed was hours of physical abuse.
“Benmohammed, 45, of Hawkhurst Walk, Crawley, got a knife from the kitchen and stabbed his victim in the hand and across his body.
“He then demanded thousands of pounds to let the victim go. The victim was eventually released and was taken to the East Surrey Hospital (in Redhill).”
At a five-day trial in September, at Hove Crown Court, the jury was told that Mr Aziz went drinking with friends at the Imperial pub, in The Boulevard, Crawley, on Friday 6 March 2020.
He later went to the home of a man called Adil, in Lewes Close, Crawley, where he and some friends played poker. Benmohammed was among them.
When Benmohammed was sentenced at Brighton Crown Court this week, the judge, Recorder Claire McCann, told him: “Everyone was drinking. I am sure that you and Mr Aziz were taking cocaine although you have denied this.
“Things got so rowdy that Adil’s wife asked you all to leave. You then went to the house you shared with Kristy O’Keefe. It was close to midnight.
“The poker game continued at your house. Both you and Mr Aziz continued to get more and more intoxicated.
“After a while, the others who had been there went on their way, leaving you and Mr Aziz at your house, with Ms O’Keefe mostly upstairs. That is when you embarked on your vicious and prolonged assault of Mr Aziz.
“The trigger for the assault was a photo showing your ex-girlfriend with a black eye. You accused Mr Azi of sharing the photo and of talking about it to everyone earlier that evening at the Imperial pub.
“You became aggressive and punched Mr Azizi in the face while he was sitting at the dining table. He screamed and you punched him again and again.
“You then picked up a spirit level and hit him with it to the side of his ribs. You were shouting at Mr Aziz, saying that he had no respect for you and demanding money.
“Ms O’Keefe came downstairs and you asked her to lock the door. You then got a knife a tried to stab Mr Aziz in the face.
“He put up his left hand to deflect the knife attack and got cut on the hand. You then used the knife to cut Mr Aziz’s torso, belly and side.
“You then went upstairs to use the toilet. By this time, Mr Aziz had urinated in his trousers. He had tried to escape through the French doors while you were upstairs but could not open them.
“When the assault finished, you told Mr Aziz to take off his trousers, out on some tracksuit bottoms and a hoodie and you and Ms O’Keefe drove him back to his house.
“One of his housemates was so alarmed by Mr Aziz’s injuries that he called for an ambulance. I remember the 999 call well. The fear and worry in the housemate’s voice as palpable. The injuries to Mr Aziz were serious.”
Recorder McCann said: “The crime you have been found guilty of is very serious. The maximum sentence for causing GBH with intent is life imprisonment. It is a serious specified offence.
“The assault was persistent and prolonged over some hours and you used a highly dangerous weapon – a knife – as well as using the spirit level as a weapon … The injuries were extensive.
“You have previous convictions for violent offending against both strangers and partners. These date back to an ABH (assault causing actual bodily harm) committed in January 1999, another ABH in 2004 at a bar and a further ABH committed in 2006 at a pub.
“Your other convictions are for affray, batteries and assaults, most recently against your ex-partner Sian McCory in 2019. Your history of violent offending is a clear aggravating feature for this offence.
“There are other aggravating features. You gratuitously degraded the victim by making him lift his top and cutting him with the knife – and you clearly committed this crime while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
“You showed little remorse or understanding of your offending. According to what you said to probation, you were not prepared to take the blame for what you did that night and, instead, you have continued to blame Mr Aziz and said you were acting in self-defence. The jury did not believe you.
“The circumstances of this offence are so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified.
“I am troubled by your violent reactions to certain situations you have found yourself in and by the escalation in severity of your violence in March 2020.
“Your adult life is marked by a clear pattern of violent offending. You have demonstrated the capacity to use serious violence with minimal provocation and that you have clear issues with your temper control, impulsivity and aggressive behaviour.”
“Until I remanded you in custody in September 2023 – you had done nothing to address your serious addiction to alcohol.
“The crime you committed against Mr Aziz represents an escalation in your violent offending. Even when Mr Aziz was already badly injured and had urinated in his trousers – and you had paused to go to the toilet upstairs – you then came back downstairs and renewed your assault against him.
“During the trial, you admitted to using cocaine, although you denied using any that night, contrary to the clear evidence from Mr Aziz.
“When asked in cross-examination about your previous conviction for battery against Sian McCory, you described that as a victimless crime, which I found shocking … Again, this shows a total and worrying failure to acknowledge your wrongdoing.”
Recorder McCann said that she had to consider whether Benmohammed was so dangerous that there was a “significant risk” that he would commit further serious violent offences and cause “serious” physical or psychological harm to one or more people.
She said: “There is an obvious risk to the public – not just Mr Aziz – particularly if you get drunk, as you have shown a propensity to violence, especially when drinking.”
Having decided that the attack was not serious enough to warrant a life sentence, Recorder McCann said: “I have decided to impose an extended sentence so that the public are protected for longer in the future.”
She jailed Benmohammed for eight years and imposed an extended licence period of two years, making an extended sentence of 10 years in total.
She said: “You will serve two thirds of the custodial period before the Parole Board will consider whether it is safe to release you and, if so, on what terms.
“Once released, you will serve on licence any part of the custodial period which remains and you will then be subject to an extended licence for a further period of two years, making a total sentence of 10 years.”
Investigating officer Ellie Mannan, from Sussex Police, said: “This was an extremely challenging case which has lasted for over three years.
“It was a traumatising incident for the victim and no one should have to suffer this sort of abuse.
“It ended up being a fantastic result and the team has made sure Benmohammed is off the streets for a long time.”