Knife attacker loses jail appeal
A man jailed for ten years after he was convicted of stabbing a restaurant worker 13 times in an attempted robbery has lost his appeal against conviction.
In the Supreme Court last May, Alex Wolffe was found guilty by a majority verdict of wounding Borislav Angelov with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, attempted robbery and two counts of intimidation.
Mr Angelov was stabbed outside his Paget home after he was chased on his motorcycle along Harbour Road by two men on a motorbike in October 2018.
Nine grounds of appeal were raised by Susan Mulligan, who appeared for Wolffe, including that Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe had erred when he allowed the Crown to lead rebuttal evidence said to damage Wolffe’s credibility.
The rebuttal involved evidence Wolffe gave about an attack on him at his home.
Wolffe testified that he had been stabbed by a stranger after he had opened the back door of the house in response to a tap at his bedroom window, which he thought was his girlfriend.
The testimony led to an application from the Crown to introduce rebuttal evidence to show that the window could not be reached by someone of Wolffe’s girlfriend’s height.
Court of Appeal Judge Anthony Smellie wrote in a judgment delivered on Thursday: “The inference which the prosecution invited the jury to draw was that the incident had been staged by the appellant who must have inflicted the knife injury to himself.”
Ms Mulligan argued that the Crown should not have been able to present the rebuttal evidence.
But Mr Justice Smellie said: “We do not consider that the learned trial judge was wrong to have regarded the matter as having arisen ex improvisio with the meaning of the modern test and so to have exercised his discretion to allow the prosecution to adduce the evidence in rebuttal.”
Wolffe testified that he had been robbed the same night that Mr Angelov had been attacked.
He said that he was on a borrowed motorcycle in Warwick when he was confronted by two men, one armed with a knife.
Wolffe said that he ran away from the men to a friend’s house, and that he later found the bike abandoned with the keys still in the ignition.
Mr Justice Smellie said: “Unanticipated though it no doubt was, the relevance of the new line of defence was clear — consistent with the appellant’s ‘ambush alibi’, the jury were now to be left with the suggestion that the men who had ambushed, robbed him of CE875 and used it to commit the attacks upon ... Mr Angelov, were now out to silence him.
“The rebuttal evidence was clearly necessary and relevant to counter that unforeseen suggestion.
“In our view it was admitted in the proper exercise of direction by the learned trial judge and so this ground of appeal also fails.
“The result is that the appellant’s appeal against conviction is dismissed and his conviction is upheld.”
Wolffe was jailed for ten years for wounding. He was further sentenced to five years for the attempted robbery, and 12 months each on the two counts of intimidation.
Mr Justice Smellie ordered the sentences to run concurrently, with time spent in custody also taken into consideration.
Wolffe has filed a separate appeal against the sentence.
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