Published: 11:00, 16 July 2021
| Updated: 11:02, 16 July 2021
A thug who stabbed his girlfriend in the head and neck during a row and then “laughed like the Joker” has been jailed.
Reid Gawler’s victim was found lifeless after the blade severed an artery next to her ear and she was only saved following emergency medical attention.
The 23-year-old denied attempted murder but pleaded guilty to wounding with intent - and was sentenced to 12 years behind bars at Canterbury Crown Court yesterday.
Gawler and Linda Smith’s relationship became volatile following a family tragedy, triggering his rage, cocaine and cannabis abuse to intensify, the court heard.
Following a row at their family home Gawler drew a blade and stabbed Miss Smith in the head, then again through the base of her neck on the evening of September 21 last year.
At first Miss Smith was unaware of her injuries before losing consciousness, lawyers explained.
“Linda Smith phoned her mum and said Reid Gawler had punched her - in fact he stabbed her,” prosecutor Martin Yale said.
“Gawler smiled and laughed. Linda described it as similar to the Joker film.”
The court heard Gawler declared “we’re all going to die” before fleeing to his parent’s home nearby, believing his girlfriend was dead.
Following a 999 call, officers found Miss Smith lifeless and losing blood however, medics rushed her to hospital where they fought to save her life.
Surgeons told the court how she suffered “life-threatening” artery damage and internal bleeding from the head wound, with the knife narrowly missing an artery in her neck.
Meanwhile, officers found a blood-soaked blade in the microwave at the property containing Miss Smith’s DNA. Gawler was soon traced and arrested.
“Anyone who can plunge a knife into someone’s neck must be considered dangerous"
After his arrest Gawler refused to co-operate with the police and denied attempted murder. However, on the day of trial in May he entered a guilty plea to the lesser charge of wounding with intent.
Miss Smith, who has been left with permanent damage and cognitive difficulties, bravely attended court with her family.
Handing down an extended jail term, Judge Simon James told Gawler: “The injuries she sustained were life-threatening… indeed you ran from the scene believing her to be dead and, if it wasn’t for prompt medical attention, no doubt she would have died.
“Anyone who can plunge a knife into someone’s neck must be considered dangerous.
“The injuries you caused both physically and emotionally are serious, even in the context of this most serious offence.”
Mitigating, Danny Moore said Gawler, of previous good character, had traits of emotional unstable personality disorder, PTSD and was addicted to cocaine and cannabis at the time of the attack.
Gawler, of River View in Canterbury, will be held for at least two thirds of his prison sentence and be subject to a restraining order on release.
With two guards at his side and supported by his parents in court, Gawler remained passive throughout the hearing and looked directly ahead.