Plymouth man left needing 60 stitches in his face after knife attack
THE STEWARD of a working men's club has told how a member banned for life for violent conduct slashed his face nine times with a craft knife.
Michael Knox, 59, needed 60 stitches to his face, followed by plastic surgery, and will need further operations.
He has now grown a beard to conceal the worst of the scarring.
His partner,Lesley Wallis, who saw him in Derriford Hospital shortly after the attack, told The Herald: "It looked as if the man had tried to cut his face off."
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Robert Kingcombe, aged 38, pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of Mr Knox when he appeared at Plymouth Crown Court but admitted wounding him with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
He also admitted possessing a bladed article at St Budeaux Working Men's Club in the early hours of Sunday, December 18 last year.
Kingcombe's pleas were accepted by Crown Prosecution Service prosecutor David Gittins, a decision which Judge Francis Gilbert QC said was "entirely sensible".
It is understood that had any of the wounds been to Mr Knox's throat or neck, the Crown would have pursued the attempted murder charge at trial.
After the hearing, Mr Knox told The Herald that Kingcombe had been let into the club in Barne Road, Barne Barton, by mistake as staff were clearing up around 12.30am.
As he was ushered out, Kingcombe pulled out the knife and slashed him across the face.
The shock and loss of blood caused Mr Knox to faint, but club CCTV showed Kingcombe continuing the frenzied attack as Mr Knox lay unconscious on the floor.
Mr Knox said: "I lost so much blood and didn't come round till I was lying on a trolley in the hospital.
"He cut me from behind the ear to the corner of my mouth, into the corner of my mouth and cut off the top of my left ear, and I later found I had a broken tooth.
"I had 60 stitches in my face and the surgeon did a really good job.
"But six months later, my cheek is still numb, my face feels stiff, and every day I look in the mirror and it reminds me what I went through."
Mr Knox said he was convinced Kingcombe was on drugs at the time because his eyes were rolling and he "just flipped".
He added: "Following the attack, I still have bad mood swings and I used to wake up sweating.
"But I wanted my staff to have confidence in me and I went back to work as soon as I could.
"I also threw myself into working on our house to stop myself thinking about it.
"But I will not let Robert Kingcombe destroy my life."
His partner, Ms Wallis, added: "I got a call to say Michael had ben assaulted, but I was not prepared for what I saw.
"His face looked like a piece of pork cut to the bone.
"It looked as if he had tried to cut his face off.
"Although I know Michael can look after himself, now every time he is late home I get anxious."
Judge Gilbert ordered a psychiatric report to address the issue of dangerousness.
If Kingscombe, of Foulton Avenue, Barne Barton, is found to be dangerous, he could be locked up indefinitely for public protection.
Judge Gilbert said that Kingscombe would remain in custody until sentence on July 27, and the attempted murder count would be dealt with then.
Following the hearing, club barmaid Sian Martin told The Herald: "Michael Knox is my boss and a very nice man.
"He was off a couple of weeks after the attack, but his wounds have healed really well.
"He is now the same as ever; you can't keep him down."
Kingcombe, known locally as Bobby, was banned from the club, reinstated after an amnesty but banned again just weeks later.
At the sentencing, the CPS will be showing the court CCTV footage of the attack and photographs of Mr Knox's injuries prior to surgery.
Mr Gittins said Mr Knox was left with four gaping wounds and several superficial injuries.
Kingcombe was jailed for four-and-a-half years in 1996 for a similar attack in which he slashed another man to the body with a Stanley knife.