In a case of unprovoked violence, 18-year-old Thomas Waeling has been handed a 16-year sentence for the attempted murder of a woman in Hastings. The incident, which occurred last year, has left the community in shock.
The attack unfolded on the evening of May 15 in a car park near the Summerfields Leisure Centre on Bohemia Road. Waeling, who had earlier taken a knife from a friend’s kitchen, confronted the victim, a local woman unknown to him. In a brutal assault, he stabbed her multiple times, including a life-threatening wound through the chest.
The woman suffered severe injuries, including a punctured lung, and had to be airlifted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton for emergency treatment. Miraculously, she survived and later recounted her harrowing experience, expressing her gratitude to the public and paramedics who came to her aid.
Waeling’s trial at Lewes Crown Court revealed a disturbing narrative. Earlier on the day of the attack, Waeling had an argument with his father, leaving him enraged. He was seen leaving a property in a black hooded top, with his face covered, and chillingly told a friend of his intention to stab someone. After the assault, he attempted to cover his tracks by discarding the knife and changing his clothes.
Arrested in Ramsgate on June 1, following an extensive police search, Waeling’s actions during the trial indicated a lack of remorse. He claimed he committed the assault “to be taken seriously.”
Waeling, of Kenilworth Road, St Leonards, stood trial and was found guilty of attempted murder. On January 26, he appeared for sentencing. He received 13 years in custody, with an additional three years on licence, and a concurrent nine-month sentence for possession of a knife in public.
In addition to Waeling’s sentencing, two other individuals were convicted for perverting the course of justice related to the investigation.
Speaking after the case, district commander Chief Inspector Jayantha Mendis-Gunasekera said: “This was an isolated incident that we investigated as a top priority.
“We understand it will have caused concern for the community, and we were determined to catch Waeling and get justice for the victim in this case.
“I would like to thank the members of the public who provided first aid to the victim and all the witnesses who came forward to provide information to assist our investigation.
“Tackling knife crime is a force priority, and in Hastings we have carried out knife sweeps, visits to schools and colleges, checks on retailers to ensure they are not selling weapons to children, and operated knife amnesty bins to get these weapons off the streets.
“I would encourage anyone with concerns or information regarding knife crime to report online or via 101. In an emergency always dial 999.
“If you don’t want to speak to police then contact either Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.”
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Yates, force lead for knife crime and serious violence, said: “We have removed offensive weapons, harmful substances, and dangerous offenders from the streets of Sussex and will continue to do so 365 days a year.
“While seizing weapons is our ultimate goal, engaging with our communities and speaking with young people is key in diverting from criminality.
“Working with our partners, we can offer support and guidance to anyone concerned about knife crime – whether that’s for themselves or on behalf of someone else.”