The victim of a brutal and terrifying knife attack has backed moves to introduce a minimum six month jail sentence for repeat offenders of knife crime.
Gary Thrall was locking the back door of his Nottingham barber’s shop in June 2010 when two men punched him to the ground, then kicked him and stabbed him four times.
Now Gary and his wife Deanna have bravely agreed to speak to their Chad about the devastating consequences of the attack which, they say, has changed their lives forever.
Gary suffered deep wounds to his left arm and shoulder and needed an eight-and-a-half hour operation to repair muscle and nerve damage that required 84 stitches.
But his injuries meant he was no longer able to work as a barber and he was forced to abandon the career he pursued since leaving school.
Gary (53) said: “Getting better is just the beginning. It turns your life upside down. It alters your whole life. You career, your family, your kids. You are always aware when you go out who is behind you.”
Wife Deanna said: “It has had a massive impact on our relationship and family life. It has been a massive trauma - psychologically as well as the damage that’s been done. I can’t imagine what he went through. Not only was he stabbed, he was kicked as well. For him the victims are still out there. There’s no closure to it all.
“He has totally changed from being an outgoing extrovert. He’s a lot quieter and doesn’t bother going out as much. We used to go out a lot with friends and families to socialise.”
Deanna was forced to support Gary financially, and then the couple were hit with a ‘double whammy’ this year when she was made redundant from Mansfield District Council where she had worked for 18 years in environmental health promotions and training.
Gary said: “We had a good lifestyle - we worked hard. And all of a sudden you have got barriers in front of you that you didn’t expect - just because someone decided to stab you.
“It is hard financially,” he admitted.
Monthly visits to London to see their 40-year-old son and grandchildren have had to be curtailed.
Speaking about the proposed legislation, Gary said: “I think offenders need to know what they do to people when they stab them.
“I don’t think it will stop it, but surely it will make people think twice. It’s a start.”
Deanna said: “I really do think that the people who do these violent crimes should take the punishment. I just really want them to see what damage they have done to Gary and the whole family.
“If it was their parents, or their brothers or sisters - how would they feel? An animal wouldn’t do what they did to Gary, They did it for no reason.
He is a gentle person. He’s not violent - he hardly ever swears - he’s that kind of person.”
Gary started cutting hair as an apprentice in Nottingham in 1977 and set up his own business in Mapperley in 1992.
During the robbery on June 9th 2010, cash and a mobile phone was stolen.
Deanna has now set up her own company, providing training for people who work in the food industry. Details can be found at www.foodhygienetrainingservices.co.uk
Gary is now trying to retrain, but has struggled to raise the cash for the course.
He said: “It’s a stupid thing. I am looking to do some training that will cost about £1,000. If I was in jail I would probably get that paid for.
“I get told by these agencies that I am too old. But in jail, they go in and come out better qualified.”
Last week, the House of Commons backed a move to impose mandatory jail terms on any adult convicted in England or Wales of a second offence involving a knife.
Conservative MP Nick de Bois told MPs that current penalties did nothing to prevent knife crime. His proposals were agreed by 404 votes to 53, a majority of 351.
The measures aim to ensure that adults receive a minimum six-month jail term on their second conviction for carrying a knife, while 16-year-olds would be given at least a four-month detaining and training order.
Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has previously said the policy “would impose a substantial new pressure on the prison population” and “would certainly not be affordable before 2016-17”.