Northern Ireland

Victim of unprovoked screwdriver stabbing on busy road reveals lasting trauma as attacker sentenced to eight years

Jamie Clarke was standing at a bus stop in north Belfast when he was attacked and stabbed with a screwdriver

Jamie Clarke who was stabbed with a screw-driver in Skegoneill Avenue in April 2023. His attacker was sentenced to eight years. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN

The victim of a brutal, unprovoked stabbing close to a bus stop on a busy road has described being traumatised following the attack, unable to work and fearful of even leaving his home.

Jamie Clarke spoke out after his attacker was sentenced to eight years, including an immediate four to be served in prison.

The 31-year-old was stabbed at least four times in the back and once in the head with a screwdriver in the daylight attack on Skegoniell Avenue, north Belfast, in April last year.

Patrick Deeney (27) was sentenced at Laganside Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. The judge noted his 68 previous convictions.

“I cannot do anything, cannot control my head, cannot think straight,” said Mr Clarke. “If I go out I fear something is going to happen. It is very, very traumatising.”

Mr Clarke said he knew his attacker but does not believe any previous interaction was the reason for being set upon. This was backed up at the sentencing hearing, with the judge describing the attack as “unprovoked” .

The assault happened in the Skegoneill Avenue area. Picture by Alan Lewis/ PhotopressNI
The scene of the assault on Skegoneill Avenue last April. Picture by Alan Lewis/ PhotopressNI

The sentencing of Deeney came just after a man who launched two separate knife attacks on two strangers in the centre of Belfast was jailed.

One victim sustained 15 stab wounds to his body after being attacked outside a pub while the second was stabbed once in the chest as he stood outside a fast food outlet.

As he sentenced Derek Paul McOwen to ten-and-a-half years at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Gordon Kerr KC revealed the 29-year old - who has amassed 85 previous convictions - has been deemed as a “dangerous offender” by the Probation Service.

Mr Clarke believes the attack on him had a sectarian element, claiming his attacker shouted: “I hope you die, you orange b*****d”.”

This was not heard in court. The victim was wearing a Rangers jersey.

Mr Clarke, now living in Rathcoole, described how his attacker came up behind on his bike. He jumped off and attacked with his fists.

Three men are accused of murder at Belfast Crown Court
Man sentenced at Laganside (Niall Carson/PA)

“He came from behind so I ran into the garden and that is where I was stabbed. He stabbed in the back and stabbed me in the head. I think there was five in total.

“I tried to defend myself but then that was when the other came on the scene. I was hit and it broke my nose and my teeth.” The other individual was never identified, Mr Clarke said.

At some point, Mr Clarke said he believes he lost consciousness but does remember being brought in the ambulance to the hospital. He remembers a sheet “completely pink” with the colour of blood

Mr Clarke said he hardly leaves his home now, which he moved to “try and get away from it all. I thought it would take it away from my mind but it has not taken it away from my mind at all.”

The north Belfast man said he lived with some disabilities prior to the attack, including problems with one of his legs.

But he added: “Other than that, I lived a happy life, I worked in Stena Line as a security officer. But I have not been back to work since around the time.”

His attacker maintained he was not guilty right up until the case was due to go trial last month. Mr Clarke was at the courthouse ready to give evidence but then heard Deeney pleaded guilty.

“His solicitors must (have) told him to hold his hands up because of the evidence against him and he would get a longer sentence if he went to trial,” said Mr Clarke.

If there was a sectarian element to the attack, Mr Clarke said that was wrong, adding that “many, many of my friends are Catholics. It doesn’t matter. I have no time for anything like that.”

He also had advice for those thinking of using a knife or other potentially lethal similar weapon, stating: “Don’t use a weapon, never use a weapon.”