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Man jailed for 12 years for knifing a dozing man

A drunk who knifed a dozing man in the neck to leave a wound so deep it exposed a vertebrae in his spine has been jailed for 12 years.

Aaron Coco Smith, 35, left Iain Gillis with the life-threatening injury after "carving" into his neck during the attempt to kill him.

The slash wound measured 15cm long and 6cm deep but doctors were able to stich it and save Mr Gillis' life.

Maidstone Crown Court heard that the 62-year-old has now made what was described as a "remarkable" recovery, although he still has some difficulty turning his neck and suffers from nightmares.

Smith, pictured left, also slashed the neck of another man, Carl Pring, during the unprovoked attack at Mr Gillis' home in Kirkdale Road,Tunbridge Wells, in April.

Smith, of Elizabeth Garlick Court, Goods Station Road, Tunbridge Wells, admitted attempted murder of Mr Gillis and unlawfully wounding Mr Pring. Mr Pring's injury was not deep but needed 10 stitches.

All three men had been drinking in the build-up to the attack and were heard rowing. Smith grabbed a knife from the flat and first lashed out at Mr Pring, who passed out in shock and fear. He then attacked Mr Gillis who was dozing on his bed.

Jailing him today Friday Judge Philip Statman said: "You began to carve into his neck, inflicting the most horrendous injury upon him. For a number of seconds you cut away with substantial force."

The judge accepted it was a "spontaneous" attempt to kill but said it was aggravated by Smith being drunk. The court was told that Smith's "prolific" record of previous convictions for violence were drink-related.

"You have a chronic problem with alcohol," commented Judge Statman, "and until you acknowledge and face up to the fact you are an alcoholic, you will cause problems for yourself and indeed for the community. For you there is no such thing as a safe drink."

Smith was sentenced to 12 years for attempting to kill Mr Gillis and two years concurrent for wounding Mr Pring.

The judge said he was "just persuaded" not to pass an indeterminate prison term.

On the morning of the attack Smith had been granted bail by Sevenoaks magistrates in relation to an assault on a police officer. It had been opposed by the prosecution.

However, Judge Statman said the magistrates were not to be blamed. "Hindsight is an amazing gift to have," he remarked. "No one could have possibly foreseen what occurred later that day."

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