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  1. ITV Report

Knifeman jailed for frenzied attack on his neighbour in trivial parking space row

A knifeman has been jailed for a frenzied attack on his neighbour through a car window in a trivial row over a parking space.

Lee Francis

Lee Francis, 38, sparked a row when Darpo Clarke returned home from a holiday to find his neighbour's car parked in his driveway.

Francis and his partner Jill Webber used Mr Clarke's driveway without permission while he and his partner Melanie Sharp were on holiday in Greece in April 18 last year.

The knife used by Lee Francis,

The pair fought outside before Francis went inside to get a 12-inch kitchen knife, and stabbed the victim four times through the window of his Mercedes at about 3.30pm.

Darpo Clarke was severely injured, and placed in a medically induced coma for three weeks and was not discharged from hospital until August.

Despite the immediate threat, Mr Clarke's partner Melanie Sharp intervened and was herself threatened by Francis, who was still brandishing the knife, before police arrived.

Francis claimed he "just saw red", and was "ashamed" of his actions during the attack in New Malden, south London.

His defence team argued the pair had been friends, and would drink together, play Playstation games and went to family parties at each other's homes.

A jury cleared him of attempted murder at Kingston Crown Court.

Francis had admitted grievous bodily harm and wounding with intent and was jailed for five years.

You lost your temper on that day and you lost it in a way that was disastrous for your victim who you claim had been your friend.

The effect it has had upon him has been enormous. There is no doubt that his life will never be the same.

It's quite clear to me having watched that video that you did indeed see the red midst.

It may be in the shock of the moment you can't remember. I do accept that this was an act very much out of character.

You weren't going to take someone humiliating you in front of the neighbours, that's what sparked it - of that I am sure.

I accept that you had your difficulties before this offence, of your depression, but I'm not persuaded that it was of such a nature it was to interfere in our life.

You knew what you'd done. You knew there was no question of self defence. Anyone who saw that video would know that.

– Paul Dodgson, Judge

A victim impact statement read in part by the judge said Mr Clarke has been plagued by nightmares since the incident and is scared to leave his home.

He had also been planning to start a family, but due to his wife now having to work full time has put this on hold.

While they were away on holiday they left their car at the airport as so many of us do.

No arrangement had been made that allowed Lee Francis or Julie Webber to do so, but doubtless they thought it convenient to put their car there while their neighbours were away.

– Peter Glenser, prosecutor

CCTV footage was shown to the court of the two neighbours fighting outside Francis' house before the victim retreated to his car.

Mr Gensler told the court that Francis claimed to have no memory of the attack when interviewed by police shortly afterwards.

Kerim Fuad, defending, said:

He is ashamed - you may think - and he will carry this with him for the rest of his life.

He is not someone who for a second, ladies and gentleman, sat there and smirked or has been pleased with what has happened - and that is why I said to you it was never a 'whodunnit'.

– Kerim Fuad, defence

Francis will serve a further five years on licence once he is released.