A teenager has been given a 16-year sentence for stabbing a woman he’d never met after he had an argument with his father.
Thomas Waeling, 18, attacked the woman in the car park in front of the Summerfields Leisure Centre in Bohemia Road, Hastings.
Waeling stabbed her several times, including once through the chest, after he had earlier taken a knife from the kitchen of a friend’s home.
The boy, who was 17 at the time, later claimed that he had to carry out the assault “to be taken seriously”.
The woman, who was from the Hastings area, suffered a punctured lung and other wounds and had to be flown to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton.
Waeling stood trial at Lewes Crown Court in November and was found guilty of attempted murder at the end of a seven-day trial.
Today (Friday 26 January), he appeared for sentencing at the same court before Judge Christine Laing, the honorary recorder of Brighton and Hove.
Waeling, unemployed of Kenilworth Road, St Leonards, was sentenced to 13 years in custody, with an extended three years to be served on licence, taking the total sentence to 16 years.
The sentence includes nine months in custody for having a knife in public, to be served concurrently.
The court was told that the incident happened at about 7.45pm on Monday 15 May last year.
Sussex Police said: “Waeling was angry after an argument with his father earlier in the afternoon.
“Waeling left a property wearing a black hooded top and covering his face.
“He later told a friend: ‘I’m going to stab someone. I’m in the mood. The first person I see, I’m going to stab.’
“Waeling approached the woman and stabbed her then ran from the scene.
“The victim, who was walking home from a supermarket, described how she felt lucky to be alive and grateful that members of the public and paramedics found her.
“She felt that Waeling had brandished the knife to intimidate her and was laughing during the assault.
“After the attack, Waeling abandoned the knife in a public toilet, changed his clothes and asked a friend to burn the clothes he had been wearing.”
Sussex Police started an investigation, known as Operation Florida, and after a widespread search Waeling was arrested in Ramsgate, Kent, on Thursday 1 June.
Two other defendants were sentenced for perverting the course of justice in connection with the investigation.
After the case, Chief Inspector Jayantha Mendis-Gunasekera, the Hastings and Rother district commander, said: “This was an isolated incident that we investigated as a top priority.
“We understand it will have caused concern for the community and we were determined to catch Waeling and get justice for the victim in this case.
“I would like to thank the members of the public who provided first aid to the victim and all the witnesses who came forward to provide information to assist our investigation.
“Tackling knife crime is a force priority and in Hastings we have carried out knife sweeps, visits to schools and colleges, checks on retailers to ensure they are not selling weapons to children and operated knife amnesty bins to get these weapons off the streets.
“I would encourage anyone with concerns or information regarding knife crime to report online or via 101. In an emergency, always dial 999.
“If you don’t want to speak to police then contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Yates, the Sussex Police lead for knife crime and serious violence, said: “We have removed offensive weapons, harmful substances and dangerous offenders from the streets of Sussex and will continue to do so 365 days a year.
“While seizing weapons is our ultimate goal, engaging with our communities and speaking with young people is key in diverting from criminality.
“Working with our partners, we can offer support and guidance to anyone concerned about knife crime – whether that’s for themselves or on behalf of someone else.”