A kung-fu instructor has been sentenced to 12 years in jail after cutting his friend's throat with a meat cleaver and smashing a bong over his head.
Christopher Gunning, 38, was found guilty on Friday (2 March) by the High Court of attempted murder of his housemate Christopher Heywood. The pair lived on Hothfield Road in Wallasey and had been friends for 15 years.
Gunning and Heywood were locked in a heated debate about the property's spare room in September last year. At around 1pm, Gunning demanded that Heywood leave the property but Heywood refused and instead retreated to his room. Gunning, a recovering drug addict and former dealer, slept with a meat cleaver under his bed after being jumped by arm men in 2004.
In his anger, Gunning took the cleaver and attacked Heywood from behind. He swung the blade at Heywood nine times and smashed a glass bong over his head. According to the prosecutor Graham Pickavance, Heywood was on his hands and knees begging Gunning for mercy.
According to the Liverpool Echo, High Court judge Justice Robin Spencer said: "He was begging you to stop. He said 'you're going to kill me'. You replied 'kill you? I'll f***ing kill you'."
"You lifted his head up by the hair with your left hand and with your right hand, drew the cleaver across his exposed throat. Mercifully the pressure you used was not sufficient to cut through the delicate and vital strictures of the neck, but you could have killed him."
Heywood managed to escape and was looked after by the Co-Operative Funeral Home on Liscard Road. An ambulance was then called and he was treated at hospital for cuts to his throat, forehead, back, head and right thigh.
Gunning surrendered to the police when they arrived at the scene. "I've hurt my housemate quite viciously haven't I? I don't have much of an excuse," he told them. Gunning claimed he only wanted to scare Heywood out of the house and that he was "the calmest guy in the world".
"Oh Jesus Christ I can't confirm or deny anything, it's like it's not me, it's not reality," Gunning said when police told him Heywood's throat had been cut. According to his defending lawyer, Gunning had lost a close friend to suicide just days before the ordeal and that he was in a "fragile" state.
Judge Spencer recognised the incident was "out of character" but still delivered a 12-year sentence because of the "completely different level" of violence used and the lack of real reason.
Merseyside Police detective constable Peter Williams applauded the decision. "This was a vicious attack which caused serious life-changing injuries to the victim, fortunately, no-one died as the result of the assault."