A 19-YEAR-OLD man has been found guilty of a stabbing at a well-known gay meeting place in Chester.
Floyd Evans was cleared of attempted murder at Chester Crown Court on Friday – but the jury took just less than four hours to find him guilty of wounding with intent.
Evans, of Linenhall Mews, Stanley Street, Chester, attacked Francisco Nascimento on October 21 last year at the top of the steps to the City Walls behind Iceland’s car park on Frodsham Street.
The court heard Mr Nascimento, a 35-year-old Brazilian, thought he was going to die after being stabbed in the heart.
It was also heard that he is now mentally distraught about the attack.
The Recorder Elgan Edwards said had it not been for the decisive action taken by people at the scene, including police officers and paramedics, Evans would have been facing a charge of murder.
Police believed the attack on Mr Nascimento, who works as a cleaner, was homophobic, given the area where it took place.
The judge said: “I regard this as a very worrying case, whether it is homophobic or not.”
The court had previously heard that Mr Nascimento, who moved from Brazil to Chester nine years ago, had gone shopping in the Tesco store on Frodsham Street before he bumped into a friend, Gareth Davies, on the city walls.
The pair had been talking for about 40 minutes before Evans went down the steps where he stopped briefly before turning around and coming back up.
The court heard that this was a signal used by gay men at the location.
After a short conversation with Mr Davies, Evans struck Mr Nascimento to the chest before fleeing the scene in the direction of King Charles Tower.
The judge, quoting Mr Nascimento’s remarks, said: “I felt something hurt and I was suffocating. I started bleeding. I was stabbed. I thought I was going to die.”
Mr Nascimento was rushed to hospital in Liverpool where he was given life-saving surgery.
The court heard Evans, who had denied the charges throughout, had been drinking, remembered going into the Tesco store, but did not recall anything after that until the following day.
Evans, who has appeared before the courts on 18 occasions and had also threatened to stab police officers on two separate occasions, told the trial he did not stab anyone and that he was not anti-gay, adding his brother was gay and he was perfectly happy with that.
He is due to be sentenced in the week starting May 12.
Speaking after the case, Det Insp Helen Spooner, who led the investigation, said: “The victim almost died as a result of the actions of Floyd Evans that night in the city centre.
“This was an unprovoked and violent attack on a man not known to him, which left him fighting for his life.
“He was stabbed to the chest, which pierced his heart. Had it not been for the skill and assistance of the medical team that battled to save his life, he would undoubtedly have died.
“The victim spent many days in intensive care and thankfully, physically he has recovered from this ordeal. But mentally he is destroyed. He will have to live with what happened to him for the rest of his life.
“The experience has been traumatic enough for the victim, but he was then made to relive what happened when Evans pleaded not guilty and the case ended up at trial.
“I hope that the successful conclusion of the case in some way helps to bring about a degree of closure for the victim and helps him to move forward with his life.”
Chief Supt Phil Jones, who is in charge of policing in Chester city centre, said: “Violent crime of any kind in Chester is not acceptable. Cheshire Police is committed to tackling this type of crime and ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice and punished for their actions.
“This particular case was treated as a hate crime and we hope that the guilty verdict passed down today reassures both the victim and those in the local community that hate crime is treated extremely seriously and will not be tolerated.”