Edinburgh knife thug, 21, who stabbed two strangers in random street attacks while high on street Valium is jailed

A knife thug who stabbed two strangers in random street attacks in Edinburgh has been jailed.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 4:42 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 4:43 pm

James McKenzie struck one victim five times with a blade as he attempted to rob him of his phone and backpack on a cycle path at Warriston in Edinburgh.

McKenzie, 21, plunged the blade into victim Matthew James’ stomach, back and arms during the terrifying robbery attempt in October 2018.

During the unprovoked attack Mr James also suffered a laceration to his lung and two broken ribs.

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One of the attacks happened near Connaught Place in the Warriston area of Edinburgh. Pic: Google
One of the attacks happened near Connaught Place in the Warriston area of Edinburgh. Pic: Google

Edinburgh Sheriff Court was also told McKenzie had carried out a similar attack on Simon Pasterski the previous day as the victim walked near to the Capital’s Water of Leith.

Mr Pasterski had been listening to music on earphones when he felt “a sharp pain” in his side as he passed McKenzie and an unidentified male at Coalhill on October 7, 2018.

As he walked on he noticed a small laceration to his abdomen and was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for treatment to the one centimetre puncture wound.

McKenzie pleaded guilty to both knife assaults when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday.

Fiscal depute Jennifer McLaren told the court both victims were completely unknown to McKenzie when he attacked them.

Victim stabbed 5 times

Ms McLaren said Mr James was walking along the cycle path at Warriston at around 7pm on October 8, 2018, when he noticed two males walking towards him.

Ms McLaren said: “As the complainer approached the two males Mr McKenzie stopped in front of Mr James and bumped chests causing him to stop.

“He said ‘gonna give me your phone mate’. Mr James refused and was pushed in the chest and he staggered backwards.

“Mr McKenzie took hold of his backpack and pulled him round. Mr James felt a pain in his left side and thought he’d been punched.”

The fiscal added the victim also felt a pain in his back and arm before he then “felt something cold next to his jaw” as McKenzie held the blade to his face.

A witness saw the attack and shouted at McKenzie, of Marine Drive in Edinburgh, and his accomplice to stop and both assailants soon “walked off in a different direction”.

An ambulance was called and the witness helped Mr James stem the flow of blood by taking off his t-shirt and administering first aid.

The court heard Mr James suffered five knife wounds to his stomach, back and arms as well as two broken ribs and a lacerated lung.

Police launched a man hunt for the attackers and McKenzie was identified and arrested the following week.

Ms McLaren also told the court McKenzie had carried out a similar attack on Mr Pasterski the previous day and had stabbed him as the pair passed each other on October 7, 2018.

On this occasion the victim suffered a stab wound to the left side of his abdomen which required treatment at the ERI.

Lawyer Euan Gosney said his client was “under no illusion as to how serious these matters are” and that he had “little recollection of the incidents as he was using street Valium” at the time.

Sheriff Nigel Ross said due to the ”gravity of the offences” he would need to defer sentence for reports and remanded McKenzie in custody.

McKenzie pleaded guilty to assaulting Symon Pasterski by striking him to the body with a knife or a bladed implement to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement at Coalhill, Edinburgh, on October 7, 2018.

He also pled guilty to assaulting Matthew James by demanding his belongings and striking him to the body with a knife or bladed implement and placed the blade to his face all to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and danger to life and attempt to rob him of a phone and bag at a cycle path near Connaught Place, Edinburgh, on October 8, 2018.

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