Stabbing was 'like a horror movie'

16:00, Feb 17 2013
Leslie Snape, the Christchurch surgeon who removed the 9cm blade from the injured man, describes the procedure.
STEADY HAND: Leslie Snape, the Christchurch surgeon who removed the 9cm blade from the injured man, describes the procedure.

A Christchurch father thought he would be attending his son's funeral this week after seeing him staggering down a street with a knife stuck in his head.

A 20-year-old man was stabbed in the temple during a leaving party of about 50 people for him and his flatmates at their Flockton St, St Albans, home at about 1am on Saturday.

The 9-centimetre blade narrowly missed his eye and brain.

SIGHT SAVED: An X-ray of the knife embedded in the stabbing victim’s head.

His father, who did not want to be named, said things were fine when he arrived at the party at about 11.30pm, but by 1am they were "out of control", with a fight spilling out on to the street.

"Someone called out, ‘[my son's] been stabbed'. I walked out and saw [him] walking down the street with a knife out of his head.

"I thought it was curtains and [he] thought it was curtains. I'm lucky I'm not going to a funeral this week."


The victim's stepmother was also scared he would not make it.

"It was like something out of a horror movie," she said.

The man underwent surgery at Christchurch Hospital on Saturday and was in a stable condition yesterday.

He was expected to be dis charged from hospital within the next few days, his father said.

"I'm lucky that [he's] alive."

The father praised the police officer who helped his son at the scene, saying he was "absolutely fantastic".

"I think everybody that was there was just in total shock . . . and disbelief that it actually happened. People were all distraught, but he just . . . settled everybody down. He also steadied me as well."

The father said his son's friends were "absolutely disgusted" by what had happened, but had told him it was common for young people to carry knives. "If they didn't have knives, it wouldn't have happened. I was at that party, I could have been stabbed, it could have been anyone."

He called for a law change to stop people carrying dangerous weapons and to give police power to search people they suspected were carrying one.

"Why would a person be car rying a knife if they're not plan ning to use it? Something good has to come out of this. We've got to stop."

Neighbours were also affected by the incident, with one saying her legs still felt "like jelly" yester day.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she called police when she heard the party was getting out of control. "I thought if I rang the police it might stop it being like Edgeware [where a man was killed last weekend]."

Another neighbour, Pauline Kitson, said it was unusual to have "that kind of party" on her street.

Victim, 18, 'sitting up, talking'

The surgeon who removed a knife from a man's head says the victim was lucky not to suffer any major damage to his sight or his brain.

Christchurch Hospital maxillofacial surgeon Leslie Snape received a call at 3am on Saturday, asking him to go to the hospital to perform surgery on a young man with a nine-centimetre knife blade embedded in his skull.

The 20-year-old was stabbed in the head after an altercation at a party in St Albans.

"The effect of it could have been a lot worse," Snape said.

"He's . . . lucky it didn't cause more injury either to his brain, his eye, or to the nerve to the eye, which was very close."

The knife went through a thick part of the man's skull near his temple, behind the back of his eye socket, and the tip ended up just below the front of his brain.

It would have taken a considerable force to drive it that far, Snape said.

The wound in the skull had to be widened before the knife could be extracted.

Snape said the victim had a good chance of full recovery although he would be under observation for a week to make sure there was no further bruising or injury to the brain.

"He's sitting up and talking and conscious."

The Christchurch police officer who found the injured man does not expect to encounter anything like it again in his career.

Constable Carl Christensen realised the situation was a "slightly bigger issue" than he first thought when he saw the stricken man.

"[He] was conscious and speaking to me, which was probably the most surprising thing," he said.

Christensen could see about 1cm of blade, but did not know how much was inside the man's head.

"He made the off-hand comment that he had tried to pull it out himself and I said ‘well, we're not going to try that again'."

Christensen's background as an ambulance and airforce paramedic meant he knew not to try pulling the knife out.

Instead, he put padding around the knife to stop it from moving.

Christensen went to Christchurch Hospital with the man and was surprised when his X-ray results came back.

"We were expecting a 3cm blade, not 9cm. He was very, very calm."

Police charged a 20-year-old with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The Press