Knife attack victim feared for his life

The Resolution in Skinner Street, Whitby
The Resolution in Skinner Street, Whitby

A hotel porter was attacked by a steak knife-wielding man as he clocked on for a night shift, a court heard.

The porter thought he was about to die when he turned round to see intruder James O’Connor, 26, standing in the Resolution Hotel’s staff-only doorway.

James O'Connor

James O'Connor

O’Connor had sneaked into the staff room and held the knife to the porter’s face and neck, jiggling it around before grabbing hold of him.

The two men grappled and the porter had his hand nicked by the knife as he tried to force it out of O’Connor’s grasp.

O’Connor then pointed the knife at the man’s jaw and told him to get down on his knees. O’Connor began issuing a series of bizarre and “menacing” instructions to the terrified victim, who ran off into the bar area. O’Connor chased after him but was brought under control by a female staff member.

“O’Connor said he was going to end it all,” said barrister Michael Smith.

O’Connor then left the hotel but police found him walking the streets a short time later in a “state of apparent distress”. He was arrested and charged with assault, affray and possessing a bladed article in a public place.

O’Connor, of Heslington Road, York, appeared for sentence on Friday after admitting all three offences at a previous hearing.

The terrifying incident happened on December 30 last year, when O’Connor booked himself into the Skinner Street hotel, and soon came to the attention of bar staff due to his “strange” behaviour.

Mr Smith said O’Connor went to bed at about 6pm but returned to the bar three hours later, “considerably more drunk, threatening and shouting, ‘I’ll have you’.”

Bar staff refused to serve him any more drinks and told him to go back to his room, but O’Connor headed for the hotel kitchen, where he grabbed the steak knife before sneaking into the staff area.

“The porter genuinely thought he was going to be killed,” said Mr Smith.

During police interview, O’Connor told officers he had woken up in a “delusional state” after having a nap during his drinking session.

Bizarrely, he told police he had disarmed a man he found in the hotel and feared he was going to be driven to a secluded car park and killed.

Defence lawyer David Camige said at the time of the incident at the Resolution, O’Connor had been given leave from a mental-health retreat.

“He was having delusional thoughts and thought he could hear gun shots and people forcing the door in his room,” added Mr Camige.

“He thought police were trying to kill him.”

At York Crown Court, judge Stephen Ashurst said it was not safe to rehabilitate O’Connor in the community - and that he must be locked up.

O’Connor had previous convictions for 39 offences including burglary, possessing a knife, attempted robbery, criminal damage and shoplifting. In April last year a court gave him a drug-rehabilitation order.

He was jailed for two years, which means O’Connor - who has bloodied barbed wire tattooed around his neck - will spend at least 12 months behind bars.

Both North Yorkshire Police and Resolution management declined to comment on the case.