‘I will not rest until my would-be killer is released’

David Wilson, owner of Sandylands Hotel, was stabbed by his friend and lodger Lee Roberts in 2011.
David Wilson, owner of Sandylands Hotel, was stabbed by his friend and lodger Lee Roberts in 2011.
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A hotelier who was left fighting for his life after being stabbed three times said he “will not rest” until his attacker is FREED from prison.

Lee Anthony Roberts, 38, stabbed friend David Wilson, the owner of Sandylands Guest House, in Blackpool, following a drunken disagreement.

The 66-year-old was left in intensive care after one blow from the kitchen knife narrowly missed his windpipe.

But despite his attacker being convicted of his attempted murder, Mr Wilson regularly takes a 440-mile round trip to visit Roberts in prison in Buckinghamshire.

And today he told TheGazette he feels as much responsible for the incident as Roberts – and will continue fighting to have him released.

He said: “I will not rest until he gets out of prison.

“I am as much to blame for what happened as Lee is.

“We had both been drinking heavily as it was the night before a mutual friend’s funeral.

“I provoked him. I had gone to bed and Lee had carried on drinking and making noise.

“I got up and told him to stop and we started to argue. I punched him first.

“He was just retaliating. He picked up the knife to defend himself.”

Roberts had been living with Mr Wilson at the Banks Street hotel in North Shore when the attack happened on March 15, 2011.

Following the 6am attack, the injured pensioner was forced to flee for help and knock at his neighbour’s hotel.

He underwent emergency surgery and spent several weeks in Blackpool Victoria Hospital recovering.

Despite the severity of his injuries and being attacked 
by Roberts on two other separate occasions, Mr Wilson begged the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the trial judge for leniency.

But those pleas fell on deaf ears and in September 2011 Roberts was handed an open ended prison sentence at Preston Crown Court and told he must serve a minimum of seven years.

Since then Mr Wilson has been doing everything he can to try and free him and believes the authorities should give victim’s more of a voice.

He said: “I did not want to press charges against Lee. What happened was a stupid accident and he has apologised.

“I hold no animosity towards him at all and he feels terrible for what happened.

“Victims of crime should have more of a say when it comes to what happens to their attackers.

“We are currently pushing for a full trial review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) which will give Lee the second chance he deserves.”

Last Monday Roberts, who admitted attacking the pensioner but denied attempted murder, appeared at the Court of Appeal with Mr Wilson by his side to challenge his conviction and sentence.

His lawyers argued that a “jury irregularity” meant his conviction was unsafe, but saw their case rejected by the 
president of the Queen’s Bench Division, Sir John Thomas.

The court heard the safety of Roberts’ conviction was thrown into doubt after a member of the jury sent an email to the crown court, complaining of a host of problems in the deliberation room.

It led to an investigation by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the body which investigates miscarriages of justice.

At the centre of the case was the complaint the foreman of the jury, who was a practising solicitor, had introduced “extraneous material”, not part of the trial, into the jury’s 

The solicitor was said to have researched online and told his fellow jurors what needed to be proved in relation to intent in order to found an attempted murder conviction and what sort of sentence might result.

Rejecting the appeal, Sir John said although the juror was wrong to say what he did, the jury had been reminded by the judge of the correct way to approach deciding the case.

He said: “We have no doubt whatever the jury followed the direction of the judge and ignored, in relation to the direction on intent and what had to be proved.”

Having dismissed the conviction appeal, Sir John said the open-ended imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentence was justified. Under it, Roberts can only be freed when and if the Parole Board consider he is safe.

The judges also rejected a challenge to the seven-year minimum term which Roberts will have to serve before his case can even be considered by the Parole Board.

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