Terrified shoppers fled Devon city centre attack

Mugshot of David Waring on background showing Exeter Crown Court

David Waring, formerly from Bideford, was sentenced to a year and nine months in jail at Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Contributed

A homeless man has been jailed for attacking a complete stranger with a knife in Exeter city centre in a mini rampage. 

David Waring, formerly from Bideford, attacked a complete stranger who had stepped in to stop him harassing a student who was walking in the High Street last November.  

Waring slashed at the victim with a knife and cut his coat before picking up a metal pole which he swung around his head, forcing pedestrians to run for safety. 

He then retreated to Cathedral Green where police arrested him and found a multi-tool which contained the knife he used in the attack. 

Waring, aged 38, now of no fixed address, admitted affray, possessing an offensive weapon, battery, assaulting an emergency worker and criminal damage. 

He was jailed for a total of a year and nine months by Judge Timothy Rose at Exeter Crown Court. 

The judge told him: “This incident was shocking, terribly serious and extremely dangerous and frightening. What you did to an innocent member of the public was just dreadful. 

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“You produced a weapon and started slashing it. That was so dangerous and it could have cut him, scarred him, or worse, because you were not really in control of yourself. 

“It was obvious you were slashing out because you sliced his coat. You pursued him, you wouldn’t let it lie, and then you picked up a pole which you were waving and flailing. 

“Members of the public were scattering because of the fear you were causing in them. It was a very bad incident.” 

Brian Fitzherbert, prosecuting, said the incident happened at 1pm on November 12, when the High Street was busy with shoppers. 

A passer-by saw Waring harassing a student and told him to stop. Waring responded by punching him in the face, following him across the road, and slashing at him with the knife. 

He then picked up a metal pole and waved it at the victim and was seen on CCTV flailing it around outside Marks and Spencer as the public scrambled to get away. 

Waring went on to stamp on a policeman’s foot after being disarmed and arrested on Cathedral Green. 

Rachel Smith, defending, said Waring has a class A drug problem which started during his childhood in care and has led to a lifetime of offending, homelessness and prison sentences. 

He has no history of serious violence and blames his behaviour on a rogue pill which was given to him by another street sleeper. He was told it was Valium but it had a serious effect on him and left him with little memory of what he had done. 

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