A teenager has been locked up for 14 years for stabbing a gay man on Chester’s historic City Walls.
Floyd Evans, 19, of Stanley Street, Chester, was branded ‘disgraceful’ for plunging a knife into 35-year-old Francisco Nascimento’s chest after encountering him at a well known homosexual meeting point near the City Walls steps on Frodsham Street.
The attack, on the night of October 21 last year, left Brazilian Mr Nascimento, inches from death, surviving only because of the quick actions of paramedics, police and doctors at the Royal Liverpool Hospital.
Last month, a jury sitting at Chester Crown Court took more than three hours to decide Evans, 19, intend to wound Mr Nascimento, but he was cleared of attempted murder.
In a trial that lasted five days, the jury heard on the night of October 21 Mr Nascimento, a cleaner who has lived in the UK since 2005, had been shopping at Tesco on Frodsham Street before making his way along the City Walls, in the hope of finding ‘someone to talk to’.
The court heard he led a fairly solitary life, had few friends and did not frequent pubs or bars.
He encountered a friend, Gareth Davies on the City Walls, whom he chatted to for 40 minutes before they both noticed a ‘skinny, young male’ approaching.
The man appeared to stop for a few minutes before turning round and coming back up the steps, which Mr Nascimento said was a signal commonly used by gay men at that spot.
The young man was wearing a hat and hoodie that covered much of his face, and the victim said he felt ‘apprehensive’ the moment he saw him.
At one point he moved to show the side of his face, and Mr Nascimento was able to make direct eye contact with him.
He had thought the man was about to walk away when he was suddenly struck in the chest before the other man ran off in the direction of Northgate Street.
Evans, who had been due to start work with Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Highways department, was arrested on November 11 after PC Lisa Smith, who had encountered him before, identified him from CCTV footage.
Although Mr Nascimento and Mr Davies were unable to pick out Evans from the first identity parade they saw, they later both identified him as the attacker.
During his testimony, Evans accepted he had been out in the city centre on the night of October 21, saying he had visited pubs, was drunk on lager and spirits and had taken some drugs.
He said he went to Tesco, and claimed he had no recollection of anything after walking through the store entrance until he woke up the next morning.
When shown CCTV images of a man fitting his description walking on the City Walls around the time of the attack, he admitted ‘it could have been me’ but denied knowledge of attacking someone.
He denied it was a homophobic attack, saying: “I have no anti-gay views. Everyone is equal. My brother is gay and I’m perfectly happy with that” – a statement backed up by his brother who testified in court.
The jury was also told of a 999 call made by Evans months before the incident, in which he threatened to stab police officers and set them alight.
When asked by Mr Moss why he did that, Evans said he’d had an argument with his brother about living arrangements and thought it would be easier to get himself arrested and find a bed that way by making ‘empty threats’.
Sentencing Evans to 14 years in a Young Offenders Insitute, the Recorder of Chester Judge Elgan Edwards, said Mr Nascimento was still deeply affected by his injuries.
He has been left ‘mentally distraught’, suffering anxiety, paranoia and insomnia and is awaiting counselling.
He is also reluctant to go swimming, something he did regularly before the attack, because of the scarring on his chest.
Judge Edwards told Evans: “It is a terrible thing to see a man of just 19 - only 18 when you committed this crime - standing in the dock.
“But your behaviour that night was quite disgraceful.
“You were convicted correctly by the jury of wounding with intent to do serious harm. You armed yourself with a knife, wandered round the streets of Chester and found your way deliberately to the Walls at a place you knew well was a meeting point for homosexuals.
“I’m quite satisfied this was pre-meditated, homophobic attack - you did not have that knife on you for any other reason.
“All this man was doing was talking to his friend but he ended up nearly dead as a result.”