'This has ruined my life' - victim's struggle after stabbing ordeal
PUBLISHED: 14:15 16 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:02 16 April 2019
A rough sleeper who was stabbed in the neck has spoken of the attack's long-lasting effect on his mental health.
William Paul was stabbed in Lowestoft on October 26 last year following an angry exchange with 46-year-old Jason Hamilton.
Mr Paul had earlier accused Hamilton of stealing from a fellow rough sleeper and demanded he returned the money he believed had been stolen.
Later the same day, Hamilton saw Mr Paul in Station Square and stabbed him in the neck. He has since been found guilty of wounding but cleared by a jury of theft, having a knife and wounding with intent.
Mr Paul, who has been homeless since February 2018, says the only reason he approached Hamilton in the first place was to defend his friend.
“I've been on the streets in Lowestoft since August, so the stabbing only happened a couple of months after,” said Mr Paul.
“It all started when I got told he (Hamilton) had robbed a friend of mine, so I had a go at him and then he went off up the high street.
“Later on that afternoon he came back towards Station Square and out of nowhere he stabbed me. I went into the nearby McDonald's and ripped my shirt off because at that point I was just so angry at what had happened.”
With police arriving at the scene and attempting to find those responsible for the attack, Mr Paul was administered first aid by Giles Barr-Thomson who owns the Ruckus gym on London Road North.
He was subsequently taken to hospital and later told the stab wound was just a couple of millimetres from being fatal.
In addition to the physical effects, Mr Paul says the hardest part of his recovery has been overcoming his mental scars.
“My depression and anxiety have got so much worse,” he said. “My life was already hard but this has made things a lot harder - to be honest it has ruined my life.
“My girlfriend lives in supported housing and obviously I can't stay there all the time but, for three or four months after the stabbing, I couldn't physically leave to go outside without her.”
But the 33-year-old added that support from those around him had been hugely beneficial.
“Loads of people have been really supportive ever since what happened,” he said. “Over the last couple of months I've been feeling a lot better in myself.”