Sunderland pair jailed after knife attack on 'lucky to be alive' dad

Paul Stoddart, top, and Lee Little.
Paul Stoddart, top, and Lee Little.

An attacked dad feels lucky to be alive after a 15cm piece of a knife used to stab him was left embedded in his flesh for four months without him knowing.

Father-of-three Darren Fletcher was beaten and stabbed by Lee Little and Paul Stoddart in the stairwell of a block of flats in Sunderland, where he had gone to visit a pal in April.

From left, Paul Stoddart and Lee Little.

From left, Paul Stoddart and Lee Little.

His kidney was penetrated by the blade and he suffered knife injuries to his back, chest and buttock.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Mr Fletcher received treatment in hospital and was released with pain killers.

But over the following weeks he started to develop bruising, which spread down his leg and led to an emergency CT scan and x-ray earlier this month, which

revealed a large piece of metal stuck inside his hamstring - close to an artery and requiring an operation to remove it.

Prosecutor Neil Pallister told the court Mr Fletcher was "horrified" by the find and said: "The shape of the object is the same as the end of a kitchen knife.

"It was measured by hospital staff to be around 15cm long."

In a victim statement, Mr Fletcher said: "When I was told what they had found I was in a state of shock.

"The police recovered a snapped knife from the area I was stabbed.

"I was told by hospital staff I am extremely fortunate.

"The knife blade was very, very close to an artery."

Mr Fletcher added: "I know how lucky I am to be alive today.

"I am a father to three children and the thought of me having been taken away from them is very upsetting and something often on my mind since this incident."

In his statement, Mr Fletcher said it was unclear how complex the operation to remove the blade would be and what effects the surgery may have on him.

Little, 31, of Rothbury, Ryhope, Sunderland, and Stoddart, 28, of High Street East, Sunderland, both admitted unlawful wounding.

The court heard both men admit being part of the attack but neither accept being the one who used the knife.

Mr Recorder Kirtley sentenced each man to two-and-a-half years behind bars.

The judge told them: "This was an extremely violent and unpleasant attack."

Joe Hedworth, defending, said Little had been long-term friends with Mr Feltcher in the past but they had fallen out.

Mr Hedworth said Little offered a "most sincere apology" for his behaviour.

Glen Gatland, also defending, said Stoddart was not the person who had a problem with Mr Fletcher and became involved in the violence at a later stage.

The court heard both men have taken steps to improve themselves in custody.