Thug saw man riding bike and became so enraged that he stabbed him in the back

Reece Lowndes
Reece Lowndes -Credit:Merseyside Police

A thug became so enraged after spotting a man riding his stolen bicycle down the street that he stabbed him in the back.

The victim was rammed off the bike by a BMW before Reece Lowndes jumped out of the passenger seat and delivered a flying kick which sent him to the ground. He then knifed the prone casualty as he lay defenceless on the floor, only narrowly missing one of his organs.

Liverpool Crown Court heard yesterday afternoon that James Gregory was cycling along Cooper Street in St Helens at around 4pm on September 12 last year when he was struck from behind by a black BMW 1 Series being driven by co-defendant Connor Richards. CCTV footage from a nearby then captured Lowndes, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, leaping out of the car while it was still in motion.

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Stella Hayden, prosecuting, described how he approached the complainant near an alleyway and immediately "launched a high kick" which knocked him to the floor. The 23-year-old, of Chiltern Road, then began raining down a flurry of kicks and punches upon him before stabbing him in the back.

One witness, Alison Garside, recalled seeing Mr Gregory "lying defenceless on the floor" as he was assaulted. Another woman, Jane Miller, screamed "Stop it, stop" as he was punched and kicked in the head.

Lowndes then cycled away on the Trek mountain bike and returned home in convoy with the car, which was seen outside his address on dashcam footage captured by a police car shortly before 5.30pm. The vehicle had however left before his arrest, during which he fell through an upstairs ceiling whilst trying to escape from officers through the loft.

A blood-stained jacket was recovered from the property, while the bicycle was also found in the garden. The BMW was subsequently located near Richards' home, with a lock knife which contained spots of Mr Gregory's blood and had Lowndes' DNA on the handle being discovered on the front passenger seat.

The complainant was treated at the scene by paramedics before being taken to Aintree Hospital. He suffered a single stab wound - which "fortunately" had not penetrated his lung - and a broken rib, having a chest drain fitted before being discharged.

Richards, of Bridge Road in Prescot, attended St Helens Police Station on September 13 after being circulated as wanted. The 27-year-old admitted having been the driver of the car involved in the incident.

Lowndes has 13 previous convictions for 20 offences. These include charges of robbery, affray, making threats with a bladed article, assault and assaulting an emergency services worker.

Christopher Stables, defending, told the court: "This is a serious case and will be viewed as such by the court. This was not a planned incident at all.

"The incident arose on the day because the defendant saw his recently stolen bicycle being ridden by the complainant. He and the co-defendant acted on the spur of the moment.

"The incident ended, in essence, with a single wound caused by the knife carried by this defendant. Fortunately, it turned out not to be a desperately serious injury.

"I accept that is largely a result of good fortune, and could have been much worse. He had a very limited education.

"His education ended abruptly when he was very young, at the age of just 11 or 12. As a result, his employment prospects are limited.

"He has had three full-time positions as a warehouseman in the past, although each has been for a short time. This young man's life presents a very sorry story overall.

"He enjoyed little or no income from employment and did not have much in the way of prospects. He would regularly be of low mood and speaks of suffering from depression and anxiety.

"That was alleviated by his regular use of cannabis, which in turn made the entire picture worse. It does present a rather sad background."

Lowndes admitted wounding and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place. Appearing via video link to HMP Altcourse, he replied "thank you" after he was jailed for 33 months.

Sentencing, Judge Anil Murray said: "The CCTV footage makes unpleasant viewing. You kicked him, you punched him and stabbed him in the back.

"The injuries were a stab wound. Fortunately, it did not penetrate his lung.

"That was luck rather than good judgement. I accept that this was impulsive and not planned.

"You have had a difficult background. You have an established pattern of violent behaviour, including carrying knives.

"You have been using drugs since you were 11. It looks like, in 2021, you were out for one day before you breached your licence."

Richards, who has no previous convictions, was also due to learn his fate on Friday, but his case was adjourned to obtain further pre-sentence reports. He will be brought back to court on May 17, being released on bail after also pleading guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Judge Murray told him: "I am seriously thinking about sending you straight to prison. You have got to work on the basis that that is what I will do."

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