‘Westlife saved her life’: Programme from boyband’s gig helps shield fan from knife attack after show
By Louie Smith
A girl of 15 stabbed repeatedly by a crazed mugger on her way home from watching Westlife was saved by her concert programme.
The teenager was walking from a coach station after a performance by the Irish boyband when she was attacked by heroin addict Stephen Williams, 33.
He stabbed her up to six times with a 10in kitchen knife, a court heard but she managed to block some of the blows with the 36-page glossy book.
Williams has now been jailed for seven years and four months.
His victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, needed stitches but has recovered from her injuries.
After the case, Det Con Graham Finney said: “The girl has Westlife to thank for saving her life.”
He added: “This was an extremely traumatic experience for the young teenage victim who only hours before had been enjoying a pop concert in London.
“The victim’s injuries could have been a lot worse had she not instinctively protected herself using the concert programme.
“One shudders to think what would’ve happened if that hadn’t been between her and the knife. She was very lucky.
“Williams committed this offence with no concern for his victim.”
The girl and her 20-year-old sister watched Westlife perform at London’s O2 Arena during the group’s farewell tour in May and then travelled by coach back home to Norwich – but as they walked from the station to their house, Williams began stalking them.
And when they took a shortcut down an alleyway he ran towards them brandishing the knife and yelled: “Give me all your bags,” Norwich crown court heard.
Ben Brighouse, prosecuting, described the victim as “slight” and “petite”.
He added: “They saw him running at them at speed. He was holding a large kitchen knife.”
The terrified 15-year-old desperately tried to hand over her bag but it caught on her shoulder.
Williams tried to stab her in the chest, abdomen and wrist but she used her £20 Westlife programme in a plastic bag to deflect the attack.
She suffered a 5cm long wound to the side of her chest, a 5cm incision in her abdomen and a 7cm slash on her wrist.
Williams, of Norwich, was arrested after CCTV showed him fleeing the scene.
He admitted robbery at an earlier hearing before being sentenced.
Recorder Alexander Milne QC said: “The fact that no major organ, artery or tendon was damaged was a matter purely of good luck, nothing more than that.”
He made an order for Williams to remain on licence for an additional three years after serving his prison sentence.
Pop stars Shane Filan, 33, Mark Feehily, 32, Kian Egan, 32, and Nicky Byrne, 33, disbanded Westlife in June after their final series of concerts.
The group, who were managed by X Factor judge Louis Walsh and previously included fifth member Brian McFadden, 32, had 14 UK No1 singles.