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Stanley knife slash victim appeals to help catch attacker

Thursday 1 May 2014

A youth worker was left with horrific facial injuries after being slashed across the face with a Stanley knife during a park robbery in Wolverhampton.

Slash woundGareth Howles, from the city’s Low Hill area, was walking through Fowlers Park on the morning of Monday April 14 when he was approached by a masked man who demanded his phone.

The 23-year-old - en route to provide care for his elderly grandfather at the time of the attack - tried to flee but was tripped and pinned to the ground.

And when he refused to bow to his attacker’s demands the robber - believed to be a mixed-race man - lashed out several times with the blade before fleeing with a pair of earphones worth just a few pounds.

Mr Howles - who works for Wolverhampton young person’s support group Base 25 - was left with multiple slash wounds to his face, including one cut that stretched across the bridge of his nose and narrowly missed his right eye.

His injuries required a total of more than 30 stitches.

Speaking from his home, where he is recovering, he urged anyone with information about the robbery or any witnesses to contact police.

He said: “It was an ordinary morning; I was walking through the park to take my disabled granddad on a shopping trip when a guy ran out of the bushes and squared up to me. I ran off but he clipped my ankle - I refused to hand over my phone or watch and in the end he just grabbed my earphones.

“It was only when I made my way out of the park and turned round to see a trail of blood did I realise I’d been cut - it happened very quickly and I guess adrenaline took over.

“I’ve been told I’ll be scarred for life but I’m just grateful I still have my sight as the knife came very close to my right eye. I can’t believe someone is prepared to use such violence and end up running off with a pair of earphones worth only a few pounds.

“It happened in broad daylight so I hope someone will have seen him running off in Fowlers Park and can give police information…or maybe someone has heard a person talking about the attack.

“This man needs locking up; if anyone has suspicions about who might be responsible then please call the police so we can get this man of the streets."

The robber - who was wearing a ski mask - struck at 9.40am on April 14 as Mr Howles was near the park’s skating area at the entrance of Nine Elms Lane.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Nick Taylor from Wolverhampton Police, said: “I need to hear from anyone who was in Fowlers Park on the morning of Monday April 14 as they may have witnessed something important.

“We understand the attacker was a mixed-race male who was wearing black clothing and a ski mask. He emerged from bushes near the skate park; it could be that he’d been in the area for some time looking for potential victims. We’re not sure what direction he ran off from after the attack."

Sergeant Steve Perry, who oversees local policing in the area, has increased plain clothes and uniform patrols since the robbery. He said: “Thankfully this type of offence is extremely rare and this appears to be an isolated incident. Additional patrols remain in place to reassure the community.

“The victim will be affected by this crime for the rest of his life and I would implore anyone that has knowledge about this offence or who the offender may be to contact the police."

Anyone with information is urged to contact Det Con Nick Taylor in the robbery team at Wolverhampton Police on the 101 number, or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.