Man shares 'luck' surviving stabbing at 16 as new report shows one in six teens experience violence

  • ITV News Wales Correspondent Richard Morgan reports on a new report on knife crime and speaks to teen stabbing victim Wes Cunliffe

A Newport man who was injured in a knife attack when he was a 16-year-old says he's lucky to be alive as a new report finds one in six teens in Wales have been victims of violence in the past year.

Wes Cunliffe was travelling back to his home city from Birmingham, when a group of youngsters targeted him in 2005.

He first noticed them during his journey, "a couple of carriages down" and could see that they were "making their way up" to his carriageway.

Wes, now an anti-knife campaigner, told ITV News he knew at that moment "they were coming" for him.

This is the area where the attack happened.

He said: "They got their balaclavas up and then I noticed that, so I picked up my bag, come out of Newport train station, ran across the road.

"I tried to go through a cut-through, I fell, went tumbling down the steps, and that's where the incident happened, and that's where I got cornered."

Wes suffered multiple stab wounds and says it all happened so fast.

He couldn't make sense of it then and still struggles with what happened now.

Wes was on a train coming home from Birmingham when he noticed his attackers.

He said: "It was fight or flight mode. I had a weapon already with me, but by that point, there was no point.

"They were there already armed waiting to attack me so I just put my bag up, to defend myself.

"I didn't feel nothing at first and then when the adrenaline wore off, and the police were there, and when we were getting arrested the police officer noticed that the blood was visible on my arm and across my stomach."

The teenager had been struck in several areas including his forearm, shoulder and stomach.

He said: "I just passed out. I felt lightheaded, heavy, my eyes rolled back.

"That's all I remember. I just woke up at A&E a few days later. The doctor said I was very lucky."

Wes admits if he did not leave that lifestyle, he would have ended up in "one of two places, grave or prison".

He said: "The turning point for me was a conversation with the police officers. They said to me, how far is this going to go before you end up in a box?"

Wes has now turned his life around and works as an anti-violence campaigner.

He says sport also helped get his life back on track and has been offered a spot playing rugby in Ebbw Vale.

He said: "I didn't believe it at first, and I was on the fence a bit really.

"My grandad just sat there and said to me in the flat, look, I was watching the doctors save your life, just do this for me. This is your chance to walk away from that life for good."

It comes as a new report from the Youth Endowment Fund found one in six teenagers living in Wales have been a victim of violence.

This includes the use of force or threat of force, such as being punched, threatened with a weapon, mugged or sexually assaulted.

Of the 7,500 children surveyed, many more (61%) said violence was just a click away on social media.

A quarter of those surveyed also said they now spend more time alone as a result of the impact of violence on their lives.

The charity behind the research says helping perpetrators will help tackle the problem.

The Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) surveyed 7,500 teenage children across England and Wales about their experiences of violence, in person and online.

It found:

"No child should grow up fearing for their own safety or that of their friends or family", says Jon Yates, executive director at the Youth Endowment Fund.

He said: "To protect children from harm and prevent them from becoming involved in violence, local authorities, the police, youth justice services and schools should be investing in strategies that have shown to make a difference.

"Whether that’s talking therapies, mentoring or hot spots policing. We increasingly know what works.

"It’s time to put the evidence into action. I’d encourage everyone who wants to see change to use the YEF Toolkit which highlights the best available evidence on what can counter youth violence.” 

Wes, now 34, does not want anyone to have to go through what he has experienced and is urging youngsters to stay away from a life of violence and crime.

He said: "Please take a look at what that life looks like for you, because the minute you go down that path of violence it's not going to end well.

"Speak to a Youth worker, parent, teacher, a peer that they trust, someone like me. You're not snitching if you're going to save somebody's life."

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