Family photo catches knife in background moments after slashing park visitor
Christopher Anthony Howe stabbed a park visitor and threatened to stab the victim’s dog before fording a river in an attempt to dodge the cops – but a passerby inadvertently caught him behind closed doors
A family photo helped imprison a terrifying knife after it captured it fleeing from police moments after stabbing a park visitor and grabbing the victim’s dog.
Christopher Anthony Howe, 33, threatened to “cut” the beloved burrow of Paul Norton, 42, as his father walked her through Reddish Vale Country Park in Manchester on May 24.
Mr. Norton heard his pet scream and turned to find the abuser hugging her by the skin of her neck. When confronted, Howe said, “I’m going to cut your dog and then I’m going to cut your throat.”
The attacker dropped the dog after skilled martial artist Mr. Norton kung fu kicked him in the chest, before jumping and slicing his arm and face with a knife.
Mr Norton said he was unable to sleep and his children were too afraid to return to the park after the incident, Manchester Evening News reports.
When Howe was spotted by police in the park smoking a cannabis joint later that day, he fled from the officers, even wading into a river to dodge them.
He was spotted by passerby Hayley Gibson, who was taking a family photo in the park and captured Howe fleeing from the officers in the background.
Paul Norton / MEN Media)
She then saw a Facebook post about the incident, before submitting the photo to Greater Manchester Police.
Mr Norton told the court he believed Howe had used a folding Stanley knife to attack him, and during an identity parade last August he told police he was “safe in 90% “that Howe was the offender.
Howe had pleaded not guilty to intentional injuries, unlawful injuries and carrying a knife in the park.
A jury at Stockport Nightingale Crown Court withdrew to consider their verdicts on Wednesday afternoon and found him guilty of unlawful injuries by a 10-2 majority.
They acquitted Howe of intentional injuries but convicted him of possession of a knife by an 11-1 majority.
Continuing, Wayne Jackson read a personal statement from Mr Norton, in which he said his children are now too scared to go to the park – even though it is only 30 seconds from their house.
“I have not slept since the attack,” Norton said in the statement.
Paul Norton / MEN Media)
“The attack came out of nowhere, which makes it more difficult to manage.”
In defense, Neil Ronan said his client “led a normal life until he found himself in a prolonged period of homelessness”.
“He is a man who has plans for the future that involve getting help and support that he was completely deprived of before this incident,” he added.
Howe refused to attend sentencing court and remained in his cell while Recorder O’Mahony continued in his absence.
He said: “This is a serious offense in a public park where families and others go to relax and need to feel safe.
“It started with the defendant for some reason picking up Mr. Norton’s dog. The knife attack was a reaction to a kick in the stomach. But the defendant had a knife and he attacked. Mr. Norton.
“There is violence in her story – and the location of the offense and the fact that her children don’t feel safe going to the park affects the sentence.”
Howe was sentenced to 18 months in prison for possession of a knife and six months for unlawful injury, the two terms to run concurrently for a total of 18 months.
Following the verdict, Senior Crown Attorney Anna Mackenzie said: “Howe carried out an unprovoked attack on a stranger in a busy public park.
“I would like to thank the witness for showing the photo which helped us bring him to justice.
“I hope today’s outcome will allow the victim to continue with her life.”