Man became first person in region to survive road side heart surgery after being stabbed in robbery
A man became the first person in the North East to survive emergency road side heart surgery after he was stabbed during a robbery.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how the surgery saved the victim's life after he was stabbed in the heart and had cash stolen from him by Kieran Smith, 23.
However the man, who has still not made a full recovery, is unlikely to be able to live an independent life following the attack in Horden on August 9, last year.
Mark Giuliani, prosecuting, told the court how the victim, who has no memory of the robbery or the stabbing, managed to ring the emergency services before collapsing in the street near Geordies Pizzeria in the town.
He said: "The (victim) went into cardiac arrest and roadside emergency cardiac assistance was given by means of opening up the chest cavity.
"He was taken to James Cook Hospital. He is the first, and to date only person in the North East to have survived following emergency road side heart surgery."He told the court how the man, who was a heroin user, was placed into a medically induced coma and suffered brain damage through lack of oxygen.The court heard how the victim's previous character has completely changed and his behaviour is now erratic and uncontrollable.
Mr Guiliani told the court how Smith, of Tenth Street, Horden, was boasting to others before or after the attack.
He told the court how before the attack he told two people, "I'm going to tax a smackhead me. I'm going in the back street", before leaving the address.
He then told a friend, after the attack: "You know what I've just done, I have stabbed a lad in the neck, I have got away with it.
"The best thing about it is I am still here, I have done it before and I will do it again."
He told another woman: "I've just brayed a smackhead.... I've just took his money off him".
The court heard how Smith attempted to get another person to clean the knife as it had blood on it.
CCTV footage showed Smith in the area before the stabbing and is seen walking away from the area.
From there he went to a local shop where he bought vodka and coke.
The 38-year-old victim's DNA was found in blood obtained from the inside of Smith's trouser waistband - where he had been seen hiding a knife.
Smith was originally charged with attempted murder, however the Crown Prosecution Service accepted a lesser guilty plea to wounding with intent.
He also pleaded guilty to robbery.
The court heard how Smith has served a previous prison sentence for robbery and was handed a suspended sentence last year for possession of a bladed article.
Smith, who had drank and taken drugs before the attack, was still on licence for the robbery and in breach of the suspended sentence when he carried out his crime.
Nicholas Lumley QC, defending, told the court: "The circumstances of Kieran Smith's violence that day could not have been predicted by any of us.
"Of course he accepts responsibility for the consequences of his ill thought out actions that day.
"It was a single blow with a knife.
"He went out and said this is what I am going to do, it's not something he's been planning for weeks on end.
"This was a random, utterly unforgivable, attack.
"A single blow took the money and the consequences have been terrible. It's not something he has planned in any sense."
Mr Lumley told the court Smith had been reunited with his family, bringing stability into his life, and has been undergoing a drugs course in prison.
Judge Edward Bindloss told Smith that he believes he is a "dangerous offender" and the consequences of his actions have led to "life changing injuries".
He told Smith: "A weapon was produced and used, there was a plan made by you shortly before the offence to target a heroin user.
"You made no secret of your actions afterwards.
"There was an attempt to conceal the weapon, you asked (another person) to wash it for you.
"He's unable to look after and care for himself. It's very unlikely that (the victim) will live an independent life.
"In my judgement you were somebody who at the time was clearly unable to manage your own behaviour."
Judge Bindloss sentenced Smith to 12 years in prison with an extra five years on extended licence.
Detective superintendent Victoria Fuller, of Durham Constabulary, said: "This was an utterly savage attack which left the victim with life-changing injuries.
"On behalf of Durham Constabulary, I would like to thank those emergency responders who saved the victim's life by carrying out open heart surgery in the street and the people of Horden for their unwavering support throughout our investigation to bring Smith to justice.
"Above all, I would like to express my sympathy to the victim and his family.
"Kieran Smith is a dangerous man and this lengthy prison sentence will give him time to reflect on his crime whilst protecting the wider public, but that will be of little consolation to the victim, who will have to endure the consequences for the rest of his life."