Teenager who stabbed stranger on way home from supermarket jailed for 13 years

A teenager who stabbed a stranger walking back from the supermarket because he was in a “bad mood” has been sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Thomas Waeling, 18, “armed himself with a very large knife” after an argument with his father and knifed 50-year-old Sarah Taylor after she left Lidl in Hastings on May 15 last year.

According to Sussex Police, the youth had taken a knife from a friend’s house after the row, and told a friend: “I’m going to stab someone. I’m in the mood. The first person I see I’m going to stab.”

Waeling, who was 17 at the time, stabbed Ms Taylor multiple times before running from the scene, ditching the knife in a public toilet and asked his friend to burn the clothes he had been wearing, the force said.

Sentencing Waeling for attempted murder at Lewes Crown Court, Judge Christine Laing KC said it was “one of the most depressing cases she had to deal with for quite some time”.

The judge said: “For me, one of the most depressing and hardest to understand aspects is the fact is you had some sort of argument with your dad.

“You decided to take out your frustrations and your anger on a completely random stranger.

“It was Ms Taylor’s utter misfortune that she happened to leave Lidl just at that time and went in a direction that meant she left the main road … and made herself a target for you simply to vent your frustration on.”

Judge Laing said Waeling had deliberately taken a knife to murder someone in the “utterly senseless” attack for the “sole reason being your bad mood at the time”.

Waeling was found guilty of attempted murder following a trial at Lewes Crown Court in November where a jury returned a majority verdict.

On Friday, the court heard how Ms Taylor was stabbed to the centre of her chest near Bohemia Road in the seaside town at around 8pm.

Her life was saved by the rapid response of emergency services and members of the public, the judge said.

In a victim impact statement, Ms Taylor said how she had been left with severe post traumatic stress disorder and suffered life-changing injuries.

The musician has no feeling in 30% of her arm and is no longer able to play her instrument or sing despite music being her only source of income for the last five years.

Judge Laing added: “If you ask members of the public [about] the time to be afraid it’s walking home very late at night in a deserted place and in the dark. Not coming out of the supermarket carrying your shopping bags at the end of the working day.

“I have little doubt Ms Taylor will find doing these simple things like shopping for her supper very traumatising.”

Judge Laing also said that at the heart of the case was the “habit” of young people carrying knives, adding: “It has got to stop.”

Defending Waeling, Neil Fitzgibbon said the youth was “apologetic, remorseful and devastated” at what Ms Taylor has had to go through.

“He wishes … that he could turn the hands of time back and he wishes he could apologise to Ms Taylor for what he did,” he told the court.

Waeling, formerly of Kenilworth Road, St Leonards, was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment and three years on extended licence.

He was also handed a nine-month concurrent sentence for possessing a knife.

Speaking after the sentencing, Sussex Police’s district commander, chief inspector Jayantha Mendis-Gunasekera said: “We understand it will have caused concern for the community, and we were determined to catch Waeling and get justice for the victim in this case.

“Tackling knife crime is a force priority, and in Hastings we have carried out knife sweeps, visits to schools and colleges, checks on retailers to ensure they are not selling weapons to children, and operated knife amnesty bins to get these weapons off the streets.”