Daniel Barnes caged after horror knife attack on peacemaker in Sunderland's Wheatsheaf pub

A peacemaker was left lucky to be alive after being stabbed and slashed while trying to stop trouble that broke out in a city bar after a "good natured" gender comment.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 5:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 11:29 am

An older customer at the Wheatsheaf in Sunderland, had asked another man to confirm what sex he was after hearing his "distinctive, effeminate voice".

Newcastle Crown Court heard those involved in the exchange in May had "all laughed" but other people in the bar "took exception" to the comment and started making threats.

The court heard it was pointed out that the gender question was asked by a "much older man who was clearly drunk" and it was a "good natured conversation".

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Daniel Barnes.

When the row did not settle down, a customer who had not been involved, "stood between" the people who were arguing to try and stop the trouble.

But CCTV showed within minutes that the man, who is in his 40s, was punched and ended up struggling on the floor with his attacker.

Others then became involved in the violence and Daniel Barnes warned the man "you are going to get cut up today".

Shocking footage showed Barnes, who has previous convictions for violence involving weapons, attack the man with a large kitchen knife he took from his pocket, before he was overpowered by his victim.

A judge has said it was "sheer luck" that the man survived the knife attack.

Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told the court: "A witness saw him raise the knife and bring it down quickly, in a stabbing motion, cutting the face of the victim before pulling the knife back and stabbing the victim to the side of his body."

The man had stab wounds to his shoulder area, left forearm, and chest as well as an injury to his hand that left him unable to move two fingers.

He had a knife scratch to his face needed surgical intervention and his chest was drained.

The court heard bone was visible through the forearm injury and the muscles in hands and wrists were damaged.

The victim said in a statement made shortly after the attack: "I am in complete shock I have been attacked with a knife. I can't believe another man would tryto hurt me because I tried to stop a silly argument in the pub.

"I could have been killed.

"The man could have caused more serious injuries had I not been able to defend myself.

"My life has been significantly altered for the forseeable future."

He said in a later statement he still needed to attend hospital appointments and have physiotherapy and added: "I am struggling to comprehend this all camefrom me trying to stop an incident from developing.

"I was trying to be peacemaker.

"I class myself being lucky to be alive. It could very easily have been a very different outcome for me."

Barnes, 34, of Esdale, Sunderland, admitted wounding with intent and having a bladed article.

Mr Recorder Shakil Najib sentenced Barnes to 60 months behind bars.

The judge told him: "It is by sheer luck you stand here being sentenced for an offence of wounding with intent rather than one of murder or manslaughter.

"The outcome of that fateful night could have been very different.

"You had with you a large kitchen knife and you had no reason to be carrying this at all but you didn't just carry it, you used it.

"You stabbed and slashed the man who suffered serious injuries. It is only by sheer luck he is alive but his life has been changed forever."

Vince Ward, defending, said Barnes had taken alcohol and cocaine that night and added: "One of his friends seems to have added Xanax to his drinks, which clearly would not have helped his decision making that night and would have contributed both to his poor behaviour and his lack of recollection of the precise details of what has gone on."

Mr Ward said Barnes had not got involved in the violence at first and had appeared "puzzled" by it.

Mr Ward added: "It is not something he is proud of, he wants me to say, and this is genuine, that he is sorry for what he did.

"The man very quickly got the better of him, he defended himself very, very well."

Detective Sergeant Catherine Scott, of Northumbria Police, said: “This was a violent attack that could so easily have resulted in the victim suffering more serious or fatal injuries.

“There is never an acceptable excuse to carry a knife or any weapon and Daniel Barnes proved himself to be a danger to others that night.

“Following an angry altercation, he decided to pull out a knife in the middle of a pub – and I’m pleased the severity of his actions have been recognised in this custodial sentence.

“I would like to thank the victim and witnesses inside the pub who saw what happened and have supported our investigation throughout.

“We will not tolerate violent crimes such as this in our city. Carrying a knife - under any circumstances - is totally unacceptable and we are committed to ensuring swift and robust action is taken against anybody found to have carried a weapon."