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Woman avoids prison in "highly unusual" knife case

Woman avoids prison in

Thursday 15 February 2024

Woman avoids prison in "highly unusual" knife case

Thursday 15 February 2024

A 37-year-old woman who lost her temper with a man and came at him with a kitchen knife has been spared prison – after the victim described her as “an amazing person who did one bad thing”.

The Royal Court heard that Nilza Vieira had picked up the knife and lunged at the man, leaving a small cut on his leg.

However, he did not sustain a serious injury – and in fact later gave evidence on her behalf at her trial last year.

The victim described Vieira as “an amazing person who did one bad thing”, and said in court that he thought she had acted more to scare him than to injure him with the knife.

Crown Advocate Lauren Hallam, prosecuting, said the incident had happened during an argument in the early hours of 25 November 2022.

The victim had angered Vieira by filming her on his mobile phone, and she told him to stop.

During interview, Vieira told police that the victim was saying "silly things" to her and filming her at around 01:00.

Vieira said she asked the victim to stop filming her, and then went to the kitchen to cut a slice of cake and had a knife in her hand to do this.

She claimed that she tried to hit the victims’s phone with the knife to stop him from filming her, but the knife accidentally scratched his leg instead.

The court was shown the footage the victim had recorded, in which Vieira is seen to pick up a kitchen knife and come towards him with it. She left a small cut on his right leg.

Vieira claimed it was accidental, but in the footage she appeared to be aiming at his body.

She denied grave and criminal assault but was found guilty of the offence after a trial in November last year. The assault was classed as "grave and criminal" because it had involved a weapon.

However Crown Advocate Hallam said that Vieira had no previous convictions and was at low risk of reconviction, and added: “She is not at risk of harming members of the public or herself.”

She recommended a sentence of 240 hours of community service and a 12-month probation order.

Advocate Rui Tremoceiro, defending, agreed that there should be a non-custodial sentence.

He said: “There was no plan to harm the victim. The defendant simply snapped, picked up the small knife, and made a single move towards him.

“The tip of the knife made a small pin prick on the side of his thigh – which is hardly the first choice of someone aiming to harm another. It is away from vital organs.”

He also pointed out that “the victim gave evidence in support of the defence”.

Commissioner Alan Binnington said the Jurats had agreed to accept the Crown’s recommended sentence, telling Vieira: “Knife crime will be dealt with very seriously, even when no injury is caused.

"You suggested you wanted to knock the phone out of the victim’s hand, but the video shows that you were not aiming at the phone.

"You either wanted to harm the victim or you were at the very least reckless as to whether harm would be caused.”

However, he said the fact that the victim had given evidence on her behalf, and did not regard himself as a victim, was “a highly unusual mitigating factor”.

The Jurats sitting were Jane Ronge and Steven Austin-Vautier.

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