Axeman calling

A silly row involving our son was to tur into bloodshed...

Published by: Polly Taylor
Published on: 12th May 2011

The man and his pal had appeared from nowhere. A rustle among the bushes, and there they were, standing on my driveway, their fists clenched.
I tried to swallow down my fear, told myself I was over-reacting. It was just because it was dark and they’d caught me by surprise. But even as I reasoned with myself, instinct screamed at me to run.
My hubby Brian, 48, edged in front of me protectively.
‘Where’s your son?’ one man growled, his eyes mad and piercing.
‘I-I don’t know,’ I spluttered, nervously.
Ryan, 22, had gone out for the night, I hadn’t the foggiest idea where. His dad and me had only just
got back from a friend’s barbecue. I’d been looking forward to sleeping off all that food – now I was confronted with this.
But even if I had known where my son was, I doubt I’d have told them. I’d never seen them before, and they definitely weren’t acting like his friends.
‘Who are you?’ I started.
‘None of your business. Where is he?’ the stranger demanded.
‘Don’t talk to my wife like that,’ Brian barked at them. ‘Now get off my property!’
‘We’re going to kill Ryan,’ said the other bloke, stepping closer. Then I saw it, something shiny slung over the stranger’s shoulder, glistening in the streetlight. Was that…? An axe!
Before I could react, he’d lifted it above his head, grunting with the effort. I stood there, terrified, like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
Quick as a flash, Brian leaped forward, rugby-tackling him to the ground. As they tussled, the second man leaped inp too, kicking and punching at Brian.
Suddenly I realised he wasn’t punching – he was holding a meat cleaver, and was smashing my husband in the head with it. Sickening thud followed sickening thud. Blood poured from his wounds.
‘Get off!’ I screamed, trying to push the attacker away. The axe man whirled around, brought down his weapon with a crack on my forearm. Pain seared through me as I fell to the ground.
‘That’s a warning,’ the man spat.
My vision blurred – then my handbag came into focus, laying a foot away. If I could reach it, I could find my mobile, call for help.
‘Touch that and I’ll chop you up!’ the axe thug yelled, swinging at my legs.
Gravel cut into my hands as I scrambled away. Where was Brian? There… he was laying nearby, his face grey, drifting in and out of consciousness, then the man with a meat cleaver punched him again and again.
He was going to kill him.
Suddenly, the one with the axe lifted his foot and stamped down on Brian’s chest with all the force he could muster. The bone-chilling sound of ribs cracking pierced the air, the painful hiss of breath being forced out of Brian’s mouth.
But the worst was yet to come. The axe was raised into the air then, with cold, calculated force, the man smashed it down between Brian’s legs.
There was a blood-curdling scream as metal sank into flesh, taking a chunk out of his thigh.
Thud! It slammed down again on his shin. The sound of the bone breaking was sickening.
‘Brian,’ I sobbed, instinctively reaching for him, as his attackers continued to kick and punch him.
With my fingers outstretched I could almost touch him. If I shuffled closer, maybe I could drag him away, do something to stop them. But as I wriggled my body forward, the axe slammed into one
ankle. Crack! Crippling pain shot through me. Now there was nothing I could do. How would we get out alive?
Then… a door slammed. Disturbed by the commotion, neighbours began to come outside.
Our attackers fled. As quickly as they’d appeared, they were gone.
‘Brian!’ I gasped. His body looked lifeless, broken. He didn’t respond. Grabbing my bag, I dialled 999 on my phone.
‘I’ve been attacked, and I think my husband’s dead,’ I choked to the operator. I curled up beside him, squeezing his limp hand as I waited for the ambulance. Please squeeze my hand back, please, please be okay…
‘What happened?’ a terrified neighbours asked. ‘Who did this?’
‘No idea,’ I whispered. The thought that anyone, let alone two complete strangers, could attack us so savagely for no reason – it didn’t make sense.
When the ambulance arrived, we were rushed to Wansbeck Hospital,  in Ashington, Northumberland.
While doctors tended to my ankle, Brian was worked on in another room. ‘Is he going to be okay?’ I croaked.
‘Yes,’ the doctor told me. ‘But he has a broken arm, leg, ribs, nose and foot. There are cuts to his head, back, chest and hands, too.’
Good grief! But I had to remind myself he was lucky that was all he had. It could have been so much worse.
Just then, Ryan and my daughter Zoe, 27, arrived. I could have asked Ryan about these blokes, but my only concern now was for my husband.
He was bandaged all over. ‘My poor darling,’ I gasped. His reply was a groan – he was in too much pain to speak.
When the police arrived to take our statement, I reluctantly left his side.
‘We’ve arrested and charged two men for the attack,’ an officer told me. ‘They’d had a row with your son earlier in the evening and were looking for him.’
‘Me?’ Ryan gasped ‘But I…’ Then I saw recognition dawn on his face.
‘There were these two lads,’ he said slowly. ‘My mate was driving and they chucked a bottle at his car, so I got out and told them to clear off.’
‘So they’d come looking for you,’ I sighed. ‘And instead attacked us.’
We live in a small village, it wouldn’t have been difficult to find out who Ryan was, where he lived.
‘I’m so sorry, Mum,’ he apologised tearfully.
‘It’s not your fault,’ I assured him. ‘They just wanted revenge.’
Those mindless yobs had hated being told off. So they’d attacked me and Brian. It was crazy.
Next day, Brian was allowed home from hospital. But, with his leg in a cast and me on crutches, we had to sleep downstairs, while Ryan and Zoe cooked for us.
Five months later, Christopher Perkins, 20, of Widdrington Station, and Jonathan Baker, 19, of Pegswood, Northumberland, were brought before Newcastle Crown Court. They pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm to Brian, causing me actual bodily harm, and possessing offensive weapons.
Christopher was sentenced to four years in a young offenders’ institution, and Jonathan was locked up for 20 months.
‘It’s fortunate you are not here on a charge of attempted murder,’ Recorder Davey told them.
Too right! Brian was in his cast for four months and still isn’t well enough to work. Although my physical injuries have healed, I have flashbacks.
Ryan’s riddled with guilt, too, but I don’t blame him for any of this. How could he have known that after a silly argument, someone would have such an axe to grind?
Michelle Davison, 42, Widdrington Station, Northumberland