Man who stabbed two strangers in random attacks in Edinburgh escapes jail sentence

A man who stabbed two strangers in random robbery attacks in Edinburgh has escaped a jail sentence.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 4:55 am
McKenzie admitted both attacks when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month and was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing on Tuesday.
McKenzie admitted both attacks when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month and was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing on Tuesday.

James McKenzie struck one victim five times with a blade as he attempted to grab hold of his phone and backpack on a cycle path in the city’s Warriston area.

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

The unprovoked attack also left Mr James with a laceration to his lung and with two broken ribs.

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McKenzie also carried about a second attack on Szymon Pasterski the previous day as his victim walked near to the city’s Water of Leith area.

The drugged-up attacker stabbed Mr Pasterski in the abdomen as they passed each other at Coalhill, Edinburgh, on October 7, 2018.

McKenzie admitted both attacks when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month and was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing on Tuesday.

But the violent offender was allowed to walk free from court after Sheriff Nigel Ross was persuaded to spare him from a custodial sentence.

Defending lawyer Jim Stephenson said his client had “little recollection of events” due to taking Valium tablets beforehand and had suffered from a traumatic childhood.

Sheriff Ross said it was with “great hesitation” he would deal with the matter by way of a community payback order as a direct alternative to custody.

McKenzie was placed on an 18-month supervision order and told to complete 250 hours of unpaid work in the community.

He was also placed on a restriction of liberty order for the next eight months whereby he will be electronically tagged and will have to stay at home between the hours of 8pm and 6am.

Previously the court was told both victims were completely unknown to McKenzie before he attacked them.

Fiscal depute Jennifer 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, 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 Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

McKenzie pleaded guilty to assaulting Szymon 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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