Dartford victim stabbed outside Wetherspoons speaks out

An ex-marine who was stabbed four times in the back outside a Dartford pub in a random knifing says he cannot forgive his attacker, who was acquitted by reason of insanity.

Stephen Hooper had been drinking in a Wetherspoons when IT worker Joel Jueanville attacked him from behind without warning.

Staff at the Flying Boat in Dartford, Kent, used T-shirts to stem the flow of blood from his wounds caused by a lock knife on May 25 last year.

Doctors told the 61-year-old he was less than a millimetre from being killed by one of the blows that nearly struck his kidney.

He has since recovered physically but has suffered flashbacks.

During his trial last week, Mr Jueanville who is the son of a clergyman, was acquitted of attempted murder on the grounds he did not know what he was doing due to a mental illness.

Prosecution lawyers accepted during the trial that the 32-year-old was suffering from a mental illness as he was having hallucinations about voodoo and witchcraft at the time of the attack.

Schizophrenic Mr Jueanville plunged the knife into his unsuspecting victim after fearing “they were coming for him”, the court heard.

Mr Hooper spoke of his “sheer surprise and shock” to learn of the verdict at Maidstone Crown Court last Thursday.

The attack happened when Mr Hooper had gone for a smoke outside the Wetherspoons pub and he was struck from behind as he sat at a table.

“I think I got half way through my pint,” Mr Hooper said, when he was struck from behind.

At first he thought it might have been someone patting him on the back but “it was too hard and it really hurt”.

He added: “I stood up holding my back. I realised as I brought my hands away they were already covered in blood.

“Without any forewarning I got stabbed four times in the back. Two of the stab wounds punctured my left lung.

“One chipped off a piece of my spinal cord. The last one was less than a millimetre from my kidney.

“I was told if they had hit the kidney, I would have bled out.”

Mr Hooper, who previously worked in Europe as a business developer, was taken to King’s College Hospital in London where he was treated for his injuries and spent the night under observation.

He returned to Dartford around eight days later to praise the workers at the pub who he credits with helping save his life.

“The first thing I did was go to the Flying Boat to thank the bar staff because they were using T-shirts to stem the blood while we waited for the ambulance”, he said.

Mr Jueanville was caught when he returned to the pub nine days after the stabbing.

He was arrested by police after a member of the bar staff recognised him and alerted officers who found him outside, carrying a lock knife which contained Mr Hooper’s DNA on its tip.

At the trial, eyewitness Kira Woodcock described Mr Jueanville walking off “really casually and slowly without a care in the world”.

During the hearing, a psychiatrist revealed Mr Jueanville had admitted to having hallucinations about voodoo and witchcraft.

Dr Tim Rogers told the jury at Maidstone Crown Court Mr Jueanville believed “in that moment” he was acting to save himself and therefore the defence of insanity applied as he was unaware his actions were legally wrong.

“There is no alternative or rational motive for Joel Jueanville to assault the victim in quite the way he did”, he explained.

Defence barrister Oliver Saxby QC said after the hearing: “All the experts agreed he had a disease of the mind at the time he stabbed the victim – namely schizophrenia – and they all agreed he was suffering from symptoms of this at the time he stabbed the victim – namely delusions. ”

After the trial, Judge Philip St John-Stevens thanked the defendant for his behaviour in what he called “one of the most unusual cases I have ever been involved with in 30 years”.

But Mr Hooper reacted angrily to the verdict, and said he was “totally gutted” after waiting such a long time, adding that he felt the judge’s wording did not take into account the serious injuries he sustained.

“This isn’t justice at all, this is a joke. I’m absolutely furious that a crime that was committed is essentially being whitewashed. It should have been – he is guilty, but he has mental health problems”, he said.

Mr Jueanville, of Strood, Kent, will now stay at a secure mental hospital and the judge will receive two reports from psychiatrists before making an order under the Mental Health Act.

Meanwhile, Mr Hooper says the attack has left him “jumpy” and he suffers regular flashback and panic attacks.

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