Holloway man who stabbed young mum in front of sleeping toddler jailed for 'senseless and gratuitous act of violence'
PUBLISHED: 17:36 13 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:36 16 September 2019
A Holloway man who stabbed a mother in front of her toddler in a "motiveless, senseless and gratuitous act of violence" has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Ismail Musa, 26, of Tollington Road, was sentenced to four years and eight months imprisonment for wounding with intent at Blackfriars Crown Court, and he'll serve a further three years on licence once he's released.
Musa originally denied stabbing Christel Stanfield-Bruce in front of her three-year-old in a buggy on July 7, but he pleaded guilty at the same court on July 18. His "complex" mental health problems were a mitigating factor in the sentence.
Adam Budworth, for the Crown, told the court: "Christel Stanfield-Bruce was a mother walking her young child home in a buggy along Caedmon Road. It's a residential street, five to five, afternoon, early evening - of course, this being June, it was bright.
"She was approached by the defendant from behind and it's appeared the defendant asked for directions to Emirates Stadium.
"Mrs Stanfield-Bruce was immediately suspicious. It appeared Mr Musa asked for her mobile phone. She refused. There was no violence accompanying that request and without more, in what appears to be a motiveless, senseless and perhaps even gratuitous act of violence, the defendant reached around and stabbed her in the back of her left leg."
Mr Busworth said video evidence shows Musa "approached quickly from behind", adding: "It appears she was targeted to some extent, walking alone with nobody else on the street.
"We submit she was a particularly vulnerable person. She clearly has a buggy with her.
"The speed at which the incident occurred is relevant, we would say, for the fact the defendant seems to have thought this through."
He suggested Musa must have had the "knife ready at hand to use" when he approached her.
Reflecting on how much damage the stabbing might have done, Judge Mark Weekes said: "I'm sure everyone in court has experience of dealing with cases that became homicides as a result of injuries to the leg." He said "all too frequently" the femoral artery is "severed".
Ms Stanfield-Bruce received a "deep" 5cm wound to the back of her left thigh and was taken to St Mary's Hospital where she was given six stitches.
Musa was arrested in June 13 thanks in part to evidence from CCTV at the Holloway Road Waitrose.
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Police searched his house and found a Stanley knife and lock knife in his bedroom. They have been unable to discern which was used in the stabbing, as the Stanley knife could have inflicted the wound if used with "some force".
Relaying Christel Stanfield-Bruce's victim impact statement, Mr Budworth told the court: "She said there was significant pain in the convalescent period. A huge gaping wound. 'I'm still in the throes of emotionally recovering.'"
The victim said she's going through the five stages of grief and her high levels of anxiety have impacted on her family and professional relationships.
Mr Budworth added: "It's still an issue and one they're working through but I'm clear from the husband that the impact has been very significant on her, and indeed the family and her behaviour with her own children, so it's over-reaching."
Asked about the social impact of her stabbing, he quotes Ms Stanfield-Bruce as saying it's had a "direct impact on my ability to be patient with my husband and children. I also haven't wanted to spend time with my friends. I feel unsettled and unsafe, very aware about things that may not happen, very aware about the safety of my children".
Musa has previously committed a catalogue of offences for shoplifting and theft from the person, including two occasions in 2015, the court heard.
On March of that year he kissed a woman aboard a bus in a "distraction theft", while in April he "dragged" a woman off a bus then "snatched her mobile phone", the Crown said. The prosecution said these incidents, where the woman were travelling alone late at night and early in the morning, after alighting buses in Holloway Road, showed Musa is "predatory" and targets lone females. Musa denied he dragged the woman off a bus, as that victim claimed, and it was treated as a phone snatching incident contemporaneously.
Sean Smith for the defence said Musa has a history of complex mental health problems and substance drugs and alcohol abuse and "behavioural explosions". Musa admitted to being intoxicated by drugs and alcohol when he attacked Ms Stanfield-Bruce. The defence argued Musa was remorseful of his actions, wanted to address his "entrenched" addiction problems, and had diminished culpability owing to his complex mental health issues. Musa is alleged to have become "tearful" when discussing his victim with a psychiatrist and told her he was "worthless and shameful".
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Weekes said the attack was a "totally horrendous experience" for Mrs Stanfield-Bruce.
He took into account Musa's "mental disorder" but argued the fact he smoked several skunk joints earlier that afternoon had exacerbated it. The probation officer who assessed Musa didn't think he posed a "high risk of serious harm to the public", but Judge Weekes said: "With great respect to the author [of the pre sentence review] I do not agree - there is a risk of robbery and violence."
The judge believed the speed with which Musa attacked indicated he'd practised with the knife, and acknowledged the very fact he was carrying it showed some premeditation.
In light of Musa's mental health Judge Weekes waived orders for costs and compensation, but the defendant must still pay the mandatory surcharge.
Lucy Akerele, from the CPS, said: "Musa attacked the victim in daylight in front of passers-by and it was lucky that the young child, who was asleep, did not witness the violence directed at his mother. The judge also ordered the destruction of knives found at Musa's home address.
"We hope this conviction and sentence provides some closure for the victim and her family. The CPS takes knife crime extremely seriously and will prosecute offenders where there is the evidence to do so."