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8 September 2011, 11:25
A Syrian asylum seeker who stabbed his neighbour ten times with a pair of scissors in a row over music from his flat has been jailed for six years.
Nazim Zahir attacked Sarfraz Shah early on New Year's Day after the victim had complained about the noise coming from his downstairs flat in St George's Road Watford.
Mr Shah, 37, needed surgery under a general anaesthetic and was treated for wounds to the back of his head, his ear, his back and his left arm.
The victim, who was aided by an Urdu interpreter, told St Albans crown court he had gone down to ask Mr Zahir, 23, to turn down the volume of his music as it was past midnight.
"I knocked on the door twice and asked very politely. It was not an aggressive reaction. He opened the door and I asked him: 'Do you see the time?'
"He was very aggressive. He said: 'New Year.' I said 'I know this is New Year. This is a residential area. You have to show respect.'
"He replied: 'Don't knock my door. Call the police. Call the council."
He told the jury of 8 women and 4 men: "My wife came down and pulled me and said 'leave it.'
"I turned and he attacked me from behind. He stabbed me and I realised he was holding something.
"Suddenly there was a pain behind my ear. After that he was stabbing me very fast - all over my body and head. I tried to hold his hand."
Mrs Shah called the police and Zahir was arrested.
Prosecutor Sally Mealing-McLeod showed the jury a pair of blue handled scissors she said were used in the attack.
She said Zahir was taken to Watford hospital for an injury to his head. He was said to be under the influence of alcohol.
Mr Shah was initially taken to Watford hospital and then transferred to the Royal Free Hospital in London where he was treated for at least 10 wounds. He was discharged on January 5, but required regular visits back to hospital in January and February.
He was also referred to a neurologist after complaining of numbness on the left side of his face.
Zahir, who was helped by a Kurdish interpreter, of St George's Road, Watford was cleared of attempted murder on Monday but convicted of an alternative charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. He had claimed he acted in self defence. Sentence was adjourned until yesterday/Weds.
His barrister Geoffrey Birch said relations had deteriorated between the neighbours following an earlier incident in June 2009. He said: "It was ignited on New Year's Eve. It was a spontaneous reaction on the defendant's part in a situation that was not of his making. He was not the one who left the flat to confront his neighbour."
Mr Birch added: "He has no previous convictions. It was very much an isolated incident. He is a vulnerable young man who has lost contact with his family in Syria."
Jailing him, Judge Andrew Bright QC said: "You are both Muslims. Neighbourliness is at the heart of the Muslim religion, but on that night you behaved in a way that was anything other than neighbourly."
The UK Border Agency will decide if he should be deported on his release from prison.