Hitchin man who slashed former friend in Stevenage sentenced to 12 years

Alan Copestake, 36, has been jailed for 12 years. Picture: Herts police

Alan Copestake, 36, has been jailed for 12 years. Picture: Herts police - Credit: Archant

A man who slashed a former friend with a Stanley knife in a Stevenage street, leaving him with horrific facial injuries, was today jailed for 12 years.

Alan Copestake, of Ickleford Road in Hitchin, was last month cleared by a jury of attempting to murder Gavin Clarke – but found guilty of an alternative charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Judge Stephen Warner, sitting at St Albans Crown Court, today jailed the 36-year-old for 12 years.

Mr Clarke, 40, had said during the trial that he thought his face was falling off as he was taken to Stevenage’s Lister Hospital in a friend’s car.

As he held his face, he said, he could feel the blood seeping through his fingers.

Speaking after today’s hearing, Det Insp Chris Treadwell said: “We are very pleased with the sentencing and hope it acts as a deterrent to those who think it is acceptable to carry and use a knife.

“We are committed to tackling knife crime in Stevenage and will deal robustly with those we catch. The victim in this case received life-changing injuries, but it could have been much worse.”

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During the trial, Copestake denied that he had taken a Stanley knife with him that night, or that it had been his intention to kill Mr Clarke.

Prosecutor Ann Evans told the court that Copestake and the victim had known each other for much of their lives.

“Gavin Clarke said this defendant was someone he thought of as a friend. Someone who he never thought would carve him with a knife,” she said.

The court heard how, in September last year, Copestake was living at his mother’s home in Cromdale Walk – in the Great Ashby area of Stevenage.

The jury was told there had been a flurry of calls and texts sent by Mr Clarke to Copestake before the attack, at about 4.30am on September 4.

Copestake told the court Mr Clarke had asked him if he could get hold of cocaine for him – and, when he said he couldn’t, Mr Clarke became “quite confrontational”.

Mr Clarke rang another friend called Mickey and arranged for him to take him in his car to Cromdale Walk, where Copestake told police the 40-year-old lunged at him and punched him.

Copestake said he had put his hands up to defend himself and that any injuries Mr Clarke had received were because of “his own actions”.

Copestake, a father-of-two, wept in the dock last month as the jury brought in its verdicts. He was also convicted of having an article with a blade or point, and today made subject to a restraining order forbidding him to contact Mr Clarke.