Kieran McLoughlin, of Vine Street, Chadderton, was previously found guilty of five counts of section 18 assault, and a single count of possession of an offensive weapon, by a unanimous jury.
Manchester Crown Court was told that on the evening of 12 January 2020, McLoughlin left a betting shop and walked along Parker Street where he engaged with his first victim.
McLoughlin was asked for change by a 36-year-old man and proceeded to engage in a brief conversation with him, before “suddenly” producing a knife and slashing the man across the side of his face, the court heard.
He then approached a second man – aged 43 - outside Greggs and stabbed him in the face, before approaching the tram stop on Market Street and took a cup of money from another homeless man, aged 47.
McLoughlin proceeded to stab the faces of another two men – aged 53 and 35 respectively – and returned to stab the 47-year-old man in the shoulder before boarding a tram.
Eventually, two police community support officers (PCSOs) and members of the public confronted McLoughlin, 32, and prevented him from leaving the tram, before plain-clothes officers attended and detained him at the scene, recovering the knife in what Greater Manchester Police (GMP) called a “violent struggle”.
Four of the men were taken to hospital and the 47-year-old received treatment at the scene.
Despite extensive evidence, including CCTV of the attacks, McLoughlin repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident, claiming he found the knife on the tram.
DC Lindsey Morgan, of GMP’s Longsight CID, said the force was “pleased that McLoughlin is behind bars for a long time”, describing his offences as “truly shocking”.
“McLoughlin throughout has failed to acknowledge he committed these offences, or offer anything in the way of remorse, which is all the more reason he deserves to have time behind bars to reflect on the severity of his actions,” DC Morgan said.
“I want to thank the members of the public who tended to the victims when they realised what had happened, and subsequently alerted our city centre patrols so that our officers could negate the threat posed by McLoughlin.”
Jayne Sharp, senior crown prosecutor for CPS North West, added: “McLoughlin preyed on these vulnerable males in Manchester City Centre and stabbed 5 males in what appears to be a random unprovoked spree of violence … I hope seeing [him] face the consequences of his actions that day, gives the victims a sense of justice for what has happened to them.”
McLoughlin will serve 18 years of his 23-year sentence in custody and the remaining five on license.