After a rare night out, I never expected a bag of chips to end in disaster…
By Sarah Horsman, 27, from York
When young mum Sarah Horsman treated herself to a rare night out she didn’t anticipate that an innocent end-of-the-evening takeaway would change her life.
The 27-year-old was brutally stabbed in the eye with a stiletto, after she confronted drunken Tammy Craig, 29, who had knocked her chips out of her hands.
Sarah, from York, was tucking into her greasy treat in the taxi queue when Craig stumbled into her. When she complained, the thug turned on her – plunging her shoe into her right eye socket.
The full-time mum-of-two was rushed to York Hospital where she underwent emergency surgery to save her eye. Four operations later, Sarah’s sight has returned but she faces a fifth operation and a lifetime of treatment to deal with the facial trauma caused by the attack.
Sarah says: “She told me she was going to floor me and then the next thing I knew I couldn’t see. I thought she’d given me a black eye. The reality was much, much worse.”
As a mum to two young boys Riley, three, and Jaiden, two, Sarah and her partner Paul, 31, a cleaning operative, had their hands full and it had been months since she’d been out partying with her friends.
She says: “Even though my friend and I had birthdays the previous month we’d been too busy to plan anything so we scheduled a long overdue night out together in July last year.
“Being a mum is so rewarding but I couldn’t wait to let my hair down and catch up with my mates. I even missed the ritual of picking out your best frock and getting dolled-up.
“We had a great night out laughing and dancing and when the club closed, as is tradition, we headed to our local late-night cafe to grab a burger and chips before joining the queue at the taxi rank. I’d had a wonderful time but now my bed was calling me.
“I was tucking into my chips when a really drunk woman barged into me, sending them flying. I was understandably cross and I told her so. ‘Thanks very much, I was enjoying them!’ I said sarcastically as I looked at my snack in a messy pile on the pavement.”
Sarah thought that was the end of the matter until the sozzled, shoeless stranger turned on her, yelling at her to eat them off the floor.
She says: “She began laying into me and calling me everything under the sun. She was threatening to floor me as her friends tried to calm her down. I just rolled my eyes. I was irritated more than anything but continued to ignore her slurred insults and threats.
“Hoping she’d get bored, I started tucking into my burger which had survived the clash and tried to zone her out. I just wanted to get back to Paul and the kids.
“But the next minute something hard suddenly hit my face and I couldn’t see. Dazed, I stumbled away from the taxi rank to get away from her. I thought I’d been punched and was reeling. I don’t know how far I managed to walk before everything went black as I collapsed.
“I could hear people screaming my name as I drifted in and out of consciousness. I had no idea what had happened to me.”
Sarah was rushed to hospital in an ambulance where she learned the sickening truth.
She says: “My friend explained that the woman had swung her stiletto at me and it had smashed into my right eye. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How could anyone be so vicious?”
A scan revealed the awful extent of her injuries. She had an orbital fracture, a traumatic injury to her eye-socket and her tear duct had been destroyed beyond repair.
Doctors told her that if the sharp heel had been one millimetre to the left she would have lost her eye. One millimetre deeper and she would have been dead.
Sarah says: “I couldn’t believe it. All this over a bag of chips.
“My eye was haemorrhaging and doctors had to insert a glass tube down my right nostril to filter any fluid down the back of my throat.
“The following day I had a metal plate inserted into the base of my eye-socket bone. Afterwards, doctors put a patch over my eye to spare me looking at the black swollen, mess underneath.
“When Paul brought the boys in to see me it broke my heart when Jaiden burst into tears and hid behind his dad. I didn’t want to scare the kids so I explained that I was a pirate now and that everything would be OK.”
Sarah was finally released from hospital after ten days and amazingly further tests concluded that the sight in her right eye was still intact.
She says: “But the attack had left me terrified to go out. I felt like a different person. I heard my attacker had been arrested but bailed and lived in fear of bumping into her.”
In August this year, Craig appeared at York Crown Court and pleaded guilty to wounding. She was handed an 18-month prison sentence, but it was suspended for two years because she has two young children, one born after the incident, and is the victim of domestic violence.
She was also sentenced to two years’ supervision, put on a 12-hour curfew for three months. and a permanent restraining order was imposed. She was ordered to do 10 days of rehabilitative activities and pay Sarah £500.
Sentencing Craig, Recorder Alistair MacDonald QC said: “It is clear you had far too much alcohol to drink that night. The consequences of jailing you would be absolutely catastrophic, as indeed the consequences were for the complainant of this case.”
Sarah says: “I was outraged by the result, Apparently the judge was lenient because she’s a single mum to two young children. But what about my two young children and the effect on them? I have a right and a duty to be healthy for my kids.”
For Sarah, the recovery has been long and continues. She faces further painful surgery to maintain her replaced tear duct and is currently receiving treatment for post traumatic stress disorder as she struggles to process her ordeal.
She says: “I still suffer with watery eyes and get terrible headaches. The attack also severed a nerve which has left me with facial paralysis under my eye. Food that’s too hot or cold is painful to eat. My confidence has plummeted and it upsets me when my sons kiss mummy’s ‘pirate eye’ goodnight.
“Leaving the house has become an issue for me. I make myself go out but I’m always really wary of strangers now and feel anxious whenever I’m not in the safety of my own home.
“The false tear duct only lasts around five years so I face a lifetime of operations to maintain it. It has already slipped so I’m waiting on a fifth operation to correct it. I desperately want to put the attack behind me but I live with the consequences everyday while she wanders free.
“I’m obviously really lucky to still have my sight and I’m grateful to the doctors who were able to save my eye. But although I’ve made some progress, I worry that I’ll never be able to move on from the attack as I struggle to comprehend how another human could behave like that, especially a mother with two young children.
“All I wanted was a much-needed night out with my friends and now my life has changed forever.
“I still can’t believe a stranger almost blinded me with her stiletto, over a bag of chips.”