Stabbing at Horsham flat - two men jailed

James Meldrum (left) and Sam Prior. Photo courtesy of Sussex Police
James Meldrum (left) and Sam Prior. Photo courtesy of Sussex Police
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Two men were jailed following an incident in which intruders forced their way into a Horsham flat and repeatedly stabbed the occupant.

James Meldrum, 31, of Lewes Prison, was jailed for 13 years. He had been convicted of aggravated burglary and wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Sam Prior, 27, of Salisbury Road, Worthing, was jailed for two years, after being convicted of assisting an offender.

The court heard that three masked men forced their way into a flat at Bishopric Court, Horsham, on September 12 last year.

Prosecutor Dale Sullivan said Meldrum had been one of the three men, while Prior had arranged to drive them to Horsham from Worthing.

He said Mr Champion, who lived there, tried to fend them off with a mallet.

“He was disarmed and struck over the head, on more than one occasion,” he said.

“Mr Champion was stabbed several times in his abdomen and his leg.

“He was being restrained by one of the men, who was inviting one of the others to get on and stab him.”

The intruders made off with iPhones, an iPad and a wallet.

These were found dumped in Horsham Park - Mr Sullivan said theft didn’t seem to have been the motive for the attack.

Both defendants denied the charges, but were convicted after a trial. Nobody else has been convicted in connection with the incident.

Sentencing, Judge Richard Hayward said: “You, Prior, organised transport to carry three men, including Meldrum, to a flat in Horsham.

“CCTV showed you leading three men, as they pulled on balaclavas, into the flat.”

He said that although Prior then went back to the car, he must have realised that the others were about to commit a serious crime.

“You, Meldrum, were one of the three men who went to the flat of Mr Champion - he was the target.

“The motives are not clear, but it’s suggested that drugs are behind the offence.

“You and the other two men were armed with knives.

“This was a vicious attack, which caused life-threatening injuries which required urgent medical attention.”

Jailing Meldrum for 13 years, Judge Hayward said: “There’s really no mitigation in your case. You didn’t plead guilty, and you’ve expressed no remorse for what occurred.”

He told Prior that he must have known from the start that the three men he was giving a lift to were involved in a crime.

“If you help people to commit criminal offences, you must accept the risk that they might commit serious offences, as happened here.

“I’ve no doubt that you bitterly regret being involved in the events of that night.”

Philip Wakeham, representing Meldrum, had told the judge: “Your Honour will recollect that no injury was sustained by any other individual in that flat.

“Mr Meldrum appreciates that he falls to receive a significant sentence of imprisonment today.”

He admitted that his client had a ‘unattractive record’, with 14 previous convictions for 31 offences, but asked Judge Hayward to impose a sentence that ‘doesn’t run the risk of robbing him of whatever hope he has for the future’.

Elaine Stapleton, representing Prior, said: “This is something that he foolishly became involved in, that unfortunately turned out to be something serious.”

She said her client had been brought into the plan at a late stage. “He had no knowledge of what was to happen in the flat,” she added.

Judge Hayward told her: “If you’re willing to help villains, then you take the chance that those villains will do something pretty nasty, and that will be reflected in the sentence.”