Pensioner jailed for cutting son-in-law's throat - Harpenden

31/10/2014

A pensioner, who slit the throat of his son-in-law with a kitchen knife, was jailed for six years today, Friday, 31 October 2014.

Rodney Cohen, aged 68, left Declan Campbell scarred for life in the unprovoked attack, which happened after they had been drinking lager together.

The victim, a structural engineer, thought Cohen was joking when he seized him in the living room of his home in Harpenden, Herts, St Albans Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor David Stanton said: "He grabbed him by the neck and pulled his head back to stretch his neck. He then cut him across the throat with a kitchen knife. Mr Campbell, at first, thought he was joking. It was only when blood poured out he realised what had happened. He was scared he might die."

The court heard that the attack happened after the two men had been to Sainsbury's in the town to buy lager. Cohen had come over from his home in New Zealand because his daughter's marriage to Mr Campbell was on the rocks. They had drunk beer on the balcony of the address in St John's Court before the victim sat on the sofa, and began clicking through TV channels, where he was suddenly attacked by Cohen who had taken a knife from the kitchen.

Mr Stanton said the victim ran out to a nearby pub for help while Cohen stood on the balcony shouting. He said Mr Campbell was taken to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital, where he received stitches to a 10cm scar across the front of his neck. He also had a small cut to his middle finger.

When Cohen was arrested he told the police: "I am sorry. I saw the knife and picked it up and sliced it across his throat." In an interview he said he had come over from New Zealand because there were problems in his daughter's marriage.

In a victim impact statement Mr Campbell said his life had been ruined, but he was willing to forgive his father-in-law.

Cohen, whose address was given as St John's Court, Harpenden, appeared at St Albans Crown Court for sentence having pleaded guilty to wounding Mr Campbell with intent on 26 July this year.

Sean Smith, defending, said Cohen was of previous good character and had left the UK when he was 19 to work in Australia and New Zealand. He handed the judge a "glowing reference" from a former employer who knew about the court case. Mr Smith said Cohen had given full and frank admissions to the police and had been honest and candid with probation officers. "Mr Cohen knows he should not have acted in the way he did. There was clearly a grievance. There was an absence of pre-meditation," he said. Mr Smith argued that his client was not guilty of the most serious form of wounding with intent because the injury was not life-threatening and he did not damaged any organs.

Judge Stephen Gullick agreed, but told Cohen: "It was fortunate no internal organs were damaged. That was through luck rather than judgement. Your son-in-law has been left with a permanent scar that will be visible for the rest of his life."

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