July 2022

Sex offending knifeman slashed teenager’s throat on bus

A knife-wielding convicted sex offender with a “compulsion” for violence slashed a teenager’s throat with a knife on a Runcorn bus after being moved north from Croydon with no continuity of care – despite suffering a “major psychotic disorder”.

Hamid Akhonzada, 26, launched the attack on May 8 last year after sitting behind a young couple on a Palacefields to Brookvale service in Runcorn.

Dafydd Roberts, prosecuting at Chester Crown Court on Friday, said Akhonzada grabbed the 17-year-old boy by the hair from behind then “held his head back and drew a bladed article described as a steak knife across the throat”

The youth tried to evade him and fight back as shocked passengers looked on and his girlfriend, 16, was also slightly injured as she tried to help him.

Akhonzada, of Liskeard Close, Brookvale, Runcorn, punched the boy three or four times as they struggled in the baggage hold and then fled the scene when the bus stopped.

Upon their arrival, officers from Cheshire Police found the victim, who was sitting on the bus staunching the blood from his neck with a Covid facemask.

Mr Roberts said the teenager received glue and butterfly stitches to treat six or seven “scratches” to his neck, described as “cuts” by Judge Michael Leeming.

He had also suffered a defence wound to his little finger, cuts to the eye area, sore ribs and a grazed knee.

Investigators were able to recover the knife, which was found broken.

Afghan refugee Akhonzada was arrested on May 14 in Croydon, where he had previously lived until being moved north by officials to Runcorn.

He gave “no comment” answers in police interview.

Three days later on remand in HMP Altcourse, he beat prison officer Michael Bennett unconscious, first by calling for attention from his cell then punching Mr Bennett.

Akhonzada pursued him around the pool tables in the open part of the wing, punching him again and knocking him out.

CCTV shown to the court showed part of the attack and the inmate then retreat to his cell upon the arrival of a female prison officer who locked him inside.

Mr Bennett described his ordeal as an “explosion of blood” followed by “everything being a blur”.

He came round after about two minutes.

The prison officer suffered “bumps and bruises” in the assault, which had the lasting effect of exacerbating his existing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A victim personal statement from the teenager assaulted on the bus said he suffered sleeplessness, “flashbacks and night terrors”, nervousness going out, aversion to using buses, and reduced socialising.

After being confirmed as fit to plead, Akhonzada admitted Section 18 wounding with intent, having a bladed article in public, and assaulting an emergency worker.

Mr Roberts said Akhonzada had 10 previous convictions for 23 offences including two for common assault and assaulting a constable in 2016, assault occasioning actual bodily harm in 2017, and common assault and sexual assault in 2018 leading to a prison sentence.

Judge Leeming read details of a pre-sentence report in which Akhonzada had told a probation officer that “he left the house with a knife because he wanted to stab somebody” but also that “it was only on the bus that he heard the voices in his head telling him to stab somebody”.