The Star | 23 Aug 2019 |
[T]he defendant had come to the UK with his father and was ‘doing well’ until he fell in with the wrong crowd and started taking cannabis and then spice.
Daouda Sy sent terrified shoppers fleeing in fear of their lives, believing they were in the midst of a terrorist atrocity, as he launched the unprovoked attack on High Street, Sheffield, on the morning of January 31 this year.
The 21-year-old, of Wensley Street, in Grimesthorpe, was today jailed for 12 years after he admitted wounding with intent and possessing an offensive weapon.
Sheffield Crown Court heard how he had been high on spice, a synthetic form of cannabis, that morning when he went into the city centre intent upon attacking someone with the ‘murderous’ weapon, which had an 18-inch curved blade.
Jonathan Sharp, prosecuting, told how Sy was walking past a busy bus stop on the High Street at about 9.30am when he made eye contact with a 47-year-old man waiting there and shouted ‘you don’t believe in God’ before drawing the machete and stricking him powerfully over the head, leaving him with a two-and-a-half inch gash above the ear.
The terrified victim, who was bleeding heavily, fled into the neighbouring branch of McDonald’s along with other ‘hysterical’ bystanders.
Sy followed them inside still brandishing the weapon, which he banged on a handrail, and shouted ‘if you don’t believe in God… I will kill you all… you best believe in Allah’.
He then calmly turned and left the store before crossing the road and walking down the street towards the Fitzalan Square tram stop, holding the machete by his side, until he was tackled by police who were on the scene within about 90 seconds and ordered him to drop the weapon, which he did, before pinning him to the ground.
Mr Sharp described how Sy, who was born in Guinea and came to the UK aged 18 with his father, had previously been arrested for brandishing an axe on High Street, Sheffield, on March 29 last year, for which he was sentenced to a 12-month community order.
The court also heard how the defendant had been arrested and released under investigation over allegations that he was in the street carrying two machetes on December 8, 2018.
Sentencing Sy for what he described as a ‘truly wicked attack’ with a ‘murderous weapon’, Judge Jeremy Richardson, the Recorder of Sheffield, said: “Not only was the victim injured as a result of your actions, ordinary members of the public who were in the city centre that morning were utterly terrified by your conduct.
“Those involved thought they were in the midst of a terrorist outrage and, having seen the DVD recording of the incident, I can wholly understand why they were utterly terrified.”
He continued: “Your intention that day was as clear as clear could be, and that was to attack anyone in the city centre.”
He added that it was highly likely the secretary of state would order Sy’s deportation back to his native country.
Sy, who was wearing a grey Gucci jumper and sat during the judge’s remarks with his hands clasped to his mouth, as if in prayer, said as the sentence was revealed ‘I didn’t mean to do it. I’m sorry’.
A video played in court showed panic-stricken members of the public scurrying into McDonald’s, followed by Sy, who was later seen to emerge and walk calmly away.
Mr Sharp said: “McDonald’s was busy that morning and numerous witnesses spoke about their terror at seeing the defendant speaking and behaving as he did.
“More than one thought a terrorist incident was taking place and that the lives of many wer [sic] in danger.
“One person was hyperventilating and had to use a paper bag to allow her to breathe. Several McDonald’s staff had to be sent home suffering from shock.
“The general reaction can be summed up by two witnesses who were inside McDonald’s.
“One said ‘I think the most terrifying part of this is that he could have attacked anyone and we were right there’.
“Another, who had run away and hidden in the toilets, said ‘I thought I was going to walk upstairs and find everybody dead’, while a third said ‘I honestly felt like I was going to die in a massacre’.”
The court heard how Sy was made the subject of an interim hospital order and admitted to Wathwood Hospital but psychologists concluded there was ‘nothing mentally wrong with him’ and his behaviour that morning was ‘wholly induced by his consumption of spice’.
Errol Ballentyne, defending, told how Sy could not remember anything from that morning and was ‘contrite’ and ‘full of remorse’.
He said the defendant had come to the UK with his father and was ‘doing well’ until he fell in with the wrong crowd and started taking cannabis and then spice.
He told how Sy had been the victim of racist chants from residents after moving to a council home and was himself the victim of a machete attack at a local shop on December 8 last year in which his hand was cut to the bone.
He claimed it was after this that the defendant had started arming himself for his own defence.
Speaking outside the court, Mr Sharp said: “Daouda Sy was a regular user of the street drug spice and was well aware of the effect it had on him, having already been prosecuted for brandishing an axe whilst under its influence in March 2018.
“This was an entirely unprovoked and vicious attack, and it is only by great good fortune that the consequences were not more serious still.
“Sy also put many bystanders in genuine fear of their lives that day through his actions. He is clearly an unstable individual when under the influence of drugs. The sentenced passed today underlines the gravity of his offending.”
Sy was sentenced to 12 years in prison for wounding with intent, two years for possessing an offensive weapon and 12 months for breaching the community order issued following the earlier offence, with all sentences to run concurrently.
He was also charged with a third count of affray, which was left to lie on file.