Attacker inflicted 'life-changing' knife injuries during drunken mass brawl (From This Is Local London)
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Attacker inflicted 'life-changing' knife injuries during drunken mass brawl at La Gogu bar in Finchley Central
9:00am Saturday 19th October 2013 in News
A father-to-be sobbed uncontrollably as he was jailed for inflicting life-changing knife wounds on two innocent bystanders during a late-night brawl.
Kristian Culeci, 25, chased down and stabbed two men with a large kitchen knife during the fight involving up to 15 men at La Gogu bar and restaurant, in Nether Street, Finchley Central, in the early hours of May 22.
At a sentencing hearing at Wood Green Crown Court on Friday, the Romanian national, who speaks no English, was told via an interpreter he would serve at least three years behind bars for the vicious attack, which still gives his victims horrifying nightmares.
The court heard how, on the night of the brawl, Culeci and his friend Bogdan Moboianu were drinking and eating at the Romanian restaurant when a fight broke out with a large group of drunken men at closing time.
Culeci, who had consumed vast amounts of whisky throughout the evening, was stabbed and hit over the head with a blunt instrument in the mêlée before he overcame his attacker and picked up the knife.
Two other men, who were with their wives in the restaurant at the time, attempted to break up elements of the punch-up before moving towards a waiting taxi in Nether Street, where they were chased down and attacked by Culeci.
One of the men suffered a punctured artery in his leg and was later rushed to a central London hospital for emergency surgery, while the other suffered a non life-threatening knife wound to the abdomen.
Victim impact statements read to the court stated how the first man still suffers discomfort and pain from the injuries and is undergoing regular physiotherapy.
The court also heard how the attack has had a dramatic impact on the family lives and working lives of both victims.
In mitigation, defence barrister Lalith De Kauwe QC told the court that his client, who sobbed in the dock throughout the hearing, showed “genuine remorse” for his actions.
The labourer had come to England to earn money for his family at home, including his pregnant fiancée who is due to give birth in the next fortnight.
Mr Kauwe also explained that his client had found it difficult to cope with the past five months already spent in custody.
Sentencing Culeci, who has two previous convictions in Romania for assault and disturbing public order, Judge Morrison said: “You took up a knife and chased people down the road and stabbed them. One of your victims still has trouble walking, standing and washing himself and he is still having nightmares, reliving what has happened to him.
“You were in drink to a vastly excessive degree and there are a number of mitigating factors - principally that you did not bring the knife to the incident and you yourself were first subjected to an unwarranted attack. However, this is not just a case of excessive self defence.”
Culeci was handed six-and-a-half years in prison, of which he was told he would serve at least half, less the time already spent in custody.
His friend Moboianu was last month handed a prison sentence for his part in the brawl.
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