Homeless man jailed after attacking Barnstaple soldier in McDonald's

JJ Simpson

JJ Simpson - Credit: Metropolitan and Devon and Cornwall police

An off-duty soldier from Barnstaple was saved from a potentially fatal injury by the metal wristband of his watch during a vicious slasher attack. 

Victim Shane Grinyer suffered a ten-centimetre cut to his lower arm when he was stabbed during an argument in a McDonald’s restaurant in Barnstaple and feared he could have died if it had severed the artery. 

Attacker JJ Simpson was homeless and living rough in a tent and had gone to the drive-through at closing time in the hope of being given left over food. 

He got into a fight with Mr Grinyer and two friends after they tried to stop him kicking the door when he was told to leave. 

The soldier got him in a headlock but Simpson pulled a craft knife from his pocket and lashed out with it, hitting Mr Grinyer’s arm and cutting through the chest of his shirt. 

The knifeman fled and dropped the knife nearby but was identified by DNA and arrested in London three weeks later. 

He has two previous convictions for knife crime, including one of taking a blade into his school when he was a teenager. 

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Mr Grinyer made a victim impact statement saying that being attacked in his home town of Barnstaple was more traumatic than being under enemy fire. 

He said: “I had a deep and large slash wound to my arm and was only saved from it being worse by the wristband of my watch which protected me further. 

“I have been in many situations of war in the army and always felt safe with my colleagues. This was really bad because it was in my home town and it really shook me up.” 

Simpson, aged 27, of Walthamstow, admitted wounding, possession of a knife, criminal damage to the McDonalds door, and later offences of attempted burglary and possession of a blade in London in May this year. 

He was jailed for a total of two years and three months by Judge Timothy Rose at Exeter Crown Court. He told him: “You produced a knife and inflicted a really serious and nasty injury.” 

Mr Tom Bradnock, prosecuting, said Mr Grinyer had been out celebrating a promotion with his brother-in-law when they and a female friend went to the McDonalds at about 2 pm on October 6, 2019. 

An argument and fight broke out in which Mr Grinyer grabbed Simpson and tried to hold him by the neck. Simpson took a craft-style knife with a half inch blade. 

One of the others also suffered a small cut to their arm. Mr Grinyer needed two days of hospital treatment and has a large scar on his right forearm. 

Simpson was caught with another knife, described as a butter knife, when arrested for breaking into storage sheds at Vincent Road, Woodford in May.  

Mr Nick Gerasimidis, defending, said Simpson was homeless and living in a tent at the time and went to the McDonalds to get free food because he had no money. 

He said he had not started the violence but over-reacted to being grabbed and pulled out the knife which he had in his pocket. 

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