A former soldier has been jailed for subjecting a 16-year-old girl to a terrifying knifepoint ordeal during a random street attack.
Wojciech Zygadlo had already threatened to kill a neighbour in a separate knife attack and police were searching for him when they heard the girl’s screams for help.
He was found holding an eight inch carving knife to her throat and rambling about killing himself and other people and had to be tasered by police when he refused to drop the knife.
Zygadlo, aged 24, is a former soldier with the Polish Army who served in Iraq during the occupation and who moved to Exmouth to look for work after leaving the services.
He told his first victim ‘if someone else does not kill you, I will’ and after his arrest he told police ‘I want to go home and kill someone, or maybe myself’.
He had drunk at least eight litres of cider and part of a bottle of vodka before launching the two attacks and could remember nothing about his actions afterwards, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Zygadlo, of Hartopp Road, Exmouth, admitted making threats to kill, affray, and two offences of having a knife in a public place. He was jailed for a total of five years and ten months by Judge Phillip Wassall.
The judge told him:”This girl was a nervous 16-year-old and she must have been absolutely terrified. This must have been traumatising to her. She could not rationalise it because this was a random attack.
“You were in a drunken and dangerous state and you armed yourself not once but twice with two different knives. What you did to start with was hair raising but while police were being called you armed yourself again.
“You attacked the girl for absolutely no reason and put the knife to her throat. You went out that night with evil intent when you were drunk and out of control. You could easily have ended up with two seriously injured or dead people.
“The girl was so traumatised that these may be life changing events so far as she is concerned. This was a random attack on a stranger.”
Mr Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said both incidents happened on the night of Saturday August 24 last year at or near Zygadlo’s home in Exmouth.
He went into a neighbouring bedsit and started talking to Stephen Beer. He asked him if he was afraid of death and said he had fought in Iraq and told the victim ‘if someone else doesn’t kill you, I will’.
He then produced the knife but Mr Beer was able to fight him off and disarm him before fleeing to a nearby taxi rank in his bare feet and with blood streaming from a cut on his ear.
Police were searching for Zygadlo when they heard screams from a 16-year-old girl who was a complete stranger and who he attacked as she walked home.
Mr Wraith said the girl was already so nervous about walking home on her own she was on the phone to her boyfriend to seek reassurance when Zygadlo stepped out of shadows and grabbed her.
He said:”He had an eight inch knife and his hand moved to her neck. He was mumbling something in her ear which may have been in Polish. She started screaming and police heard her and went to help.
“Officers saw him holding her and she appeared to be struggling to get away. The police shouted several times for him to get off her. He put his hand to her throat with the knife to her neck.
“He was asked to put it down but he refused to do so and he looked at the officer aggressively. The girl was screaming hysterically and shaking uncontrollably with fear.
“The officer decided to deploy his taser. Zygadlo fell to the floor and the girl ran to the safety of a nearby police car.
“The victim made a statement saying her confidence has been shot and she is extremely scared and finds it hard to rationalise what happened.
“Zygadlo told police he was messed up in the head and just wanted to go home and have a cigarette and kill somebody or maybe himself.”
Mr Adrian Chaplin, defending, said Zygadlo had no memory of what he had done because he had drunk eight or nine litres of cider and some vodka.
He said his client clearly did not have murderous intent because he was in a position where he could have hurt the girl but chose not to do so.
He said:”He knows what he did that night was terrifying and he must answer for it.”