Knife man jailed for trying to murder love rival while he slept

The attack happened on Cook Street. Picture: Google
The attack happened on Cook Street. Picture: Google

A jilted boyfriend who staged a terrifying murder bid on the father of his former partner’s new baby was jailed for nine years today.

Mark Cornwell armed himself with a knife before entering a bedroom where Michael Watson was sleeping along with Anne-Marie Robertson and their days old child.

Cornwell (31) punched his victim on the face who woke up to find his attacker on top of him and about to stab him in the chest.

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Advocate depute Eoghainn Maclean told the High Court in Edinburgh: “Instinctively, Mr Watson managed to grab the blade with both hands and fought against the accused as he tried to force it down into his upper body.”

The prosecutor said: “As they struggled the accused repeatedly said he was going to kill him.”

“Mr Watson bled profusely from his hands while he clenched the knife as hard as he could and pushed up against the constant pressure exerted by the accused.”

“He continued to use his strength and weight to force the knife down towards Mr Watson.”

“The struggle lasted about two minutes. Throughout, Mr Watson believed he was going to die,” said the advocate depute.

Miss Robertson, who was screaming, tried unsuccessfully to get Cornwell off the victim. But the noise alerted her grandparents and her grandfather grappled with the attacker and pulled him off the bed.

Cornwell left the bedroom at the grandparents’ home in Cook Street, Dysart, shouting: “This isn’t over. We’re not finished yet.”

The court heard that the armed intruder knew that the grandmother let the family’s dogs out early in the morning and the door was left unlocked.

Mr Maclean said: “Michael Watson and Anne-Marie Robertson were terrified by the incident and the circumstances in which it had occurred with their baby close by.”

A judge told Cornwell that he had made “a determined effort” to murder his victim in the early morning attack.

Lord Boyd of Duncansby said: “It is only through the determined efforts of Mr Watson himself with the assistance of his partner and her grandparents that you did not succeed in that endeavour.”

The judge told Cornwell: “What you did was plainly cowardly and despicable.”

He said it was clear the victim continued to suffer from the physical and psychological effect of the assault and added: “All the persons in the flat must have been traumatised by your attack.”

Lord Boyd said: “I accept this offence came about by your inability to come to terms with the break up of the relationship. Nevertheless this is a very serious offence.”

He told Cornwell that he would have faced a 10-year jail sentence for the crime if he was convicted after a trial.

Mr Watson (35) was taken to the Victoria Hospital, in Kirkcaldy, and 14 stitches were put into his hand wounds.

The advocate depute said the victim has “recurring, intrusive memories and nightmares about the attack”.

In them he panics believing that it is just about to happen again and that he and the child suffer harm or the child will be left parentless.

First offender Cornwell, of Allan Crescent, Dunfermline, earlier pled guilty to attempting to murder Mr Watson on February 23 last year.

He admitted entering the flat in Cook Street uninvited and assaulting the victim to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life by punching him, threatening to kill him, repeatedly trying to strike him on the chest with the knife and repeatedly striking him on the hands with the weapon as the victim attempted to defend himself.

Mr Maclean said that the takeaway driver was in a relationship with Miss Robertson for about eight years up until June 2017.

She was living with her grandparents and Cornwell also stayed there for a time. The grandmother would get up early to let their dogs out and leave the front door unlocked, said the prosecutor.

Mr Watson had developed a friendship with Miss Robertson online and in May 2017 they met up for the first time. She separated from Cornwell shortly afterwards.

She began a new relationship with Mr Watson and 12 days before the murder bid gave birth to their child.

The advocate depute said that Cornwell struggled to get over his separation from Miss Robertson and about August 2017 had “a suicidal episode”.

The day before the attempted murder he drove past the couple on Cook Street. But he returned early the following morning to launch the murder bid on his victim.

Police spotted him driving back to his mother’s home after the attack and he was arrested and the knife recovered from the car.

Defence counsel David Nicolson said Cornwell maintained that he had no memory of the attack, which he described as “desperately serious”.

He said he remembered taking a knife from his home with the intention of committing suicide in front of his former partner.

Mr Nicolson said: “He wanted to commit suicide in front of her but there was no clear plan how to do that. If that was the plan, the plan changed.”

The defence counsel said: “It is reasonable to infer that what has given rise to this offence is his inability to come to terms with the break up of the relationship. He does not accept that but that is a reasonable inference from the facts and circumstances.”

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