Man accused of attempted murder had ‘no reason’ to want Shoreham woman dead, court hears

Liam Hanley, 32, pictured outside Lewes Crown Court
Liam Hanley, 32, pictured outside Lewes Crown Court

A man accused of attempting to murder his former partner in Shoreham has said he wished her no harm and had ‘no reason whatsoever’ to want her dead.

Liam Hanley, 32, unemployed and of no fixed address, is accused of attacking Sarah Harries in a ‘frenzy’ at her flat in Sussex Wharf on September 4 last year.

The prosecution has said that Hanley slit Miss Harries throat while she was relaxing in the bath and stabbed her repeatedly, leaving her with up to 39 wounds.

Hanley denies a charge of attempted murder.

Giving evidence yesterday, Hanley told the jury it was Miss Harries who attacked him in the bathroom with a knife, resulting in a ‘tussle’ over the knife which finally ended in the kitchen.

At the trial at Lewes Crown Court this morning, defence barrister Rebecca Upton asked whether he had ‘repeatedly and deliberately injured’ Miss Harries that day.

Hanley told the court: “I did end up injuring her in the struggle with the knife in the flat.”

However he said: “The reason for the attack was completely on her behalf.”

He denied intending to hurt her or to murder her and said he had ‘no reason whatsoever’ to want Miss Harries dead.

“I’ve never wished her any harm,” he said, adding that he had not been angry with her.

Explaining his decision to hand himself into police at an address in Slough the following day, Hanley said: “I wanted to put what happened across.”

Cross-examining Hanley, Rachel Beckett, prosecuting, accused Hanley of starting the attack.

She said: “For whatever reason you snapped and you took a knife into the bathroom. You immediately started your attack on her.”

Hanley said: “I had no reason to snap.”

During the incident in the bathroom, Hanley said the knife ended up in the bath and he took the opportunity to grab it.

Miss Beckett asked whether he was aware of the blood on the floor and said: “You could have left the flat at this stage, you could have grabbed your phone and called someone.”

Hanley said: “I wasn’t aware of how heavily she was bleeding. It all happened so quickly.

“I was still in shock, I didn’t know what was going on.”

He said he did not know how they left the bathroom.

Hanley said the knife was in his hand but he did not have 100 per control of it because Miss Harries was ‘grabbing’ him arm and ‘throwing’ it around.

He said the knife entered her body ‘on quite a few occasions’ while she tried to get the knife.

Hanley said the first time he saw the wound on her neck was in the kitchen, and said he did not see the knife at her neck at any point.

Asked why he did not ring 999 before leaving the flat, he said he was ‘in shock’ and ‘panicked’ – heading to the beach and then to two addresses in Lancing before travelling to Slough.

The trial continues.