Attempted murder trial: Jealous ex-boyfriend found guilty over frenzied 17-stab wound knife attack on love rival
A FURIOUS jealous ex-boyfriend who launched a frenzied knife attack on his love rival stabbing him 17 times has been found guilty of attempted murder.
Ashley Luff bowed his head in the dock, grinned and nodded twice at Portsmouth Crown Court as his seven-day trial came to a dramatic end when jurors found him guilty by majority decision.
Supporters sitting with victim Nathan Birch gasped in the packed public gallery when the forewoman returned the verdict.
Jurors took four hours and four minutes to return a majority guilty verdict - dealing a fatal blow to Luff’s ‘ludicrous’ claims of self-defence.
Minutes after the verdict was returned it was revealed Luff has a previous conviction for attempted robbery, common assault, minor public order incident and most recently in 2016 admitted dangerous driving.
Addressing Luff, judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘Your case will be adjourned for sentence until May 17. I’m ordering a pre-sentencing report and they will consider the issue of dangerousness. Meanwhile, you will be remanded in custody.’
Restaurant worker Luff, 32, had waited in Southampton Road, Park Gate, before springing an ambush on 24-year-old Mr Birch - knocking the chef off his bike before stabbing him 17 times, chasing him down the road, ditching the knife in a drain at Long Acres and trying to flee from police.
Despite being brutally attacked Mr Birch was able to escape when Luff kicked him into a ditch - then fell in himself. The victim fled back to his work at TGI Fridays where staff called medics who had to reinflate his collapsed lung.
Gloves found in a nearby silver BMW were soaked in Mr Birch’s blood, with the recovered knife also covered in blood. When Luff was stopped in an alleyway at a retail park nearby and arrested he was asked if he had anything sharp on him.
Luff, who said he had been driven to the area by his brother-in-law, said: ‘I threw it in a drain.’
Prosecutor Simon Jones blasted Luff’s ‘ludicrous’ claims as the dad-of-three gave evidence claiming he never intended to harm or kill his love rival - and only wanted to ‘ping him off’ the bike and steal it.
Mr Birch suffered three wounds to his chest ‘one of which was directly over the heart’, with two cuts to his left flank, one on each arm, and some on his back and neck. A medic found ‘at least two of those deeply penetrated the body and so were the result of considerable force,’ Mr Jones said.
Giving evidence, Mr Birch said: ‘I couldn’t stop him lashing out. Eventually we scuffled over to a ditch. He tried to kick me in there even further and as he did that he fell into the ditch himself.’
He added: ‘He was just swinging at me, I thought I was being punched or hit. All over, chest, neck, back, I know he was just trying to hit me everywhere.’
During the trial jurors heard how Mr Birch had kissed 24-year-old Chantelle Price, Luff’s former partner, in the Slug and Lettuce pub in Fareham on August 4 - just more than two weeks before the stabbing on August 19.
A relative had broadcast Miss Price and Mr Birch’s first kiss on Facebook Live from the pub - with furious Luff turning up at the pub to remonstrate with her.
ASK Italian worker Luff, of Bedford Drive, Fareham, had made two phone calls on August 6 asking staff when Mr Birch would finish work and when he was in.
Luff denied doing a ‘recce’ of the route Mr Birch takes home but armed with a knife he laid in wait, hiding near vans on the side of the road as his target cycled along.
Mr Birch, with his headphones in, was making a call to his partner Miss Price at the moment he was brutally attacked.
Opening the case last Monday, the prosecutor said: ‘So with Nathan Birch cycling down Southampton Road what we say happened on that road was a brutal and violent attack.
‘The defendant suddenly appeared in front of Nathan, he having cycled past a couple of vans parked up on the left.
‘The defendant threw a punch that struck Nathan on his shoulder and that derailed him, dropping his rucksack in the process. Nathan had no time to react or attempt to get to open his rucksack where he had the bat he’d been carrying concerned for his own protection.
‘Then the defendant embarked upon a violent, frenzied attack, punching him to his body and although Nathan Birch tried to defend himself but was overpowered - it was no use.
‘That’s because the defendant had a knife on him and he was using it to stab Nathan multiple times.’