Published: 09:07, 19 June 2018
| Updated: 09:07, 19 June 2018
A drink and drug-crazed thug who attacked a terrified mother with a knife as she sat in her car with her young child outside a supermarket has been jailed for two years.
Ashley Cobb pounced as Charlene Gibbard was in the passenger seat of the family Ford Focus at Tesco’s in Bridge Road, Sheerness, on October 3 last year.
Mrs Gibbard, 31, suffered a cut to her hand as she tried to ward off her attacker, while her husband Westley was inside shopping.
Cobb, 21, was expected to receive a sentence involving mental health treatment, but a judge said reports had shown it was not possible.
Maidstone Crown Court heard he had earlier on October 3 last year been caught on CCTV cameras as he picked up scissors from one aisle and then used them to cut open a packet containing a 6in kitchen knife.
He left without paying at just after 2pm and went to the car and got into the driver’s seat.
Mrs Gibbard’s two-year-old daughter Eila was asleep in the back.
Prosecutor Abigail White said Cobb brandished the knife as he told Mrs Gibbard: “Don’t say nothing."
“She was in extreme fear when she saw the knife and afraid for her safety," she said.
"The knife was brandished at her chest. Her two-year-old child was directly behind her.
“It was extremely terrifying for her. She tried to defend herself and grabbed the knife with her right hand. It caused lacerations to the top of her finger, which bled.
"The knife was brandished at her chest. Her two-year-old child was directly behind her..." - Prosecutor Abigail White
“She got out of the car and shouted for help. She removed her daughter from the back seat.
"Members of the public saw what was happened and went to her aid.”
Cobb, who had been drinking heavily and smoked cannabis and later admitted to drinking 20 cans of beer two or three times a week, became aggressive when arrested by police.
He told officers he did it because a cash machine had swallowed his card and he wanted to get the anger out of him.
Cobb, of Emerald View, Warden, admitted affray, possessing a blade and criminal damage.
He had previous convictions for aggravated vehicle taking and being drunk and disorderly. He was in breach of a conditional discharge for threatening words and behaviour.
James Ross, defending, said Cobb, who had served almost eight months on remand, suffered from ADHD and a learning disability.
He submitted a suspended sentence with conditions could be imposed, so that he could be referred for treatment.
“He has complex difficulties,” Mr Ross added. “If he seeks treatment himself there would be a waiting list of well over a year.”
Judge Adele Williams said on Friday when Cobb appeared for sentence that the victim was “understandably terrified” when confronted by him.
“She believed you were going to kill her,” said the judge.”She described the effect it has had on her, which has been traumatic and distressing.
“We have for some months been investigating whether mental health treatment can be put in place, but we have reached the end of the road so far as that is concerned.
“Only a prison sentence is justified for this offence.”
Mrs Gibbard, from Minster, said after the attack: “It was really scary. I had been sitting there for about five minutes when all of a sudden a total stranger opened the driver’s door and climbed in with a knife.
“I could see the knife and thought he was going to use it on me. I screamed ‘Oh my god’ and grabbed the knife to try to point it outside the car, and at the same time scrabbled to undo my seat belt.
I had been sitting there for about five minutes when all of a sudden a total stranger opened the driver’s door and climbed in with a knife..." - victim Charlene Gibbard
“Somehow I managed to push the man out of the car. Then I jumped out and opened the back door and dragged Eila out. I was screaming for help.
“I heard the man drop the knife and saw people running to help. They held him until the police arrived.
“I ran to Tesco yelling for Westley. I was shaking and having trouble breathing.
“I didn’t know it at the time but I had cut my fingers on the knife and blood was dripping everywhere.”
Mrs Gibbard, from Scocles Road, Minster, added: “It was later when I realised that both Eila and I could have been stabbed that the shock really set in.
“I haven’t been able to sit in a car on my own since and I get really jumpy.
“It all happened so fast. I never expected anything like this to happen in Sheerness, especially at that time of the day.
“I was born and brought up on Sheppey and always thought it was a relatively safe place.”
The couple had been about to go on the school run to collect their two other children, aged nine and 11.
Mrs Gibbard’s slashed hand was treated at the scene by paramedics.