Attacker slashed three teenagers after spilled drink row

Thomas Ratcliff slashed victims in Sunderland city centre.
Thomas Ratcliff slashed victims in Sunderland city centre.
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THIS attacker used a home-made knife to slash three teenagers after an argument over a spilt drink.

The pals had been enjoying a night out at Passion nightclub in Sunderland city centre when trouble broke out with fellow clubber Thomas Ratcliff.

Newcastle Crown Court heard when the teens left the club, the problems continued outside and Ratcliff used a makeshift knife to slash one from his lip to his ear, leaving him with a deep wound requiring 40 stitches.

The 18-year-old knifeman then turned the weapon on the other two, who also suffered slash wounds.

The first teenager’s injury was so severe his blood pressure dipped dangerously low and he required a life-saving operation.

Another needed 15 stitches to wounds on his arm and side, while the third needed 13 stitches to a cut on his arm.

A doorman, who had been working nearby and disarmed the attacker, got a cut finger in the incident.

Prosecutor Penny Moreland told the court the trouble started on Christmas Eve when Ratcliff’s drink was knocked over while the friends enjoyed themselves in the club.

Miss Moreland said: “In the early hours of Christmas Eve they attended Passion nightclub.

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“An incident occured when it was suggested one of their number had spilled the drink of the defendant Ratcliff.”

The court heard the trouble inside came quickly to an end but then reignited outside.

Miss Moreland said: “The defendant struck what appeared to be a punch to the face of one man, causing a serious wound.

“The defendant had been armed with a Stanley blade wrapped in black duct tape.”

Ratcliff pleaded guilty to one charge of wounding with intent, two of unlawful wounding and one of common assault.

The court heard the teenage victims, who are all around 18, spoke of their confidence being shattered, having flashbacks to the horror of that night and being left with unsightly scarring.

Prosecutor Penny Moreland told the court: “It is quite apparent the effects for these young men persist.”

Judge Richard Lowden jailed Ratcliff, of St Luke’s Road, Pallion, for five-and-a-half years.

He said: “Three people received injuries, all from a shocking weapon you had in your possession at that time which was a Stanley knife blade, largely covered in duct tape but with a substantial part of the blade exposed and protruding.

“All in all the damage you did with that blade was very severe indeed.”

Nigel Barnes, defending, said Ratcliff may have “misread” what was going on that night and believed he was under attack by a group of men outside the club.

The court heard Ratcliff was set upon by a group of unknown males after the initial attack.

Mr Barnes said: “By keeping the blade in his hands and his flailing around it was fairly random who he would make contact with.”

The court heard Ratcliff may have been given the blade by somebody else who was out that night, after the initial trouble started.

Mr Barnes said Ratcliff has a “very, very high” level of remorse and shame for what he did that night.

Mr Barnes added: “He wants to make use of his life, he’s not a tearaway normally at all.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho