‘Stuff of nightmares’ says judge, as addict jailed for alleyway stabbings

A cannabis addict obsessed with stabbings and serial killings has been jailed for life after he targeted two lone elderly women in alleyway knife attacks.

Jayden Hayes, 24, was told by a judge his offending was the “stuff of nightmares” and had “brought terror” to the Oldham area in Greater Manchester in November 2019 when he pounced on his victims 19 days apart.

His first savage assault took place within just 90 minutes of being bailed by magistrates over a string of allegations including brandishing a knife at police officers, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Joy Clarke, 61, was repeatedly stabbed in her head, face and chest in Longfield Crescent at about 6.20pm on November 1 as she returned home from a visit to a chip shop.

Injuries sustained by one of the victims attacked by Jayden Hayes
Injuries sustained by one of the victims attacked by Jayden Hayes

Rob Hall, prosecuting, said Hayes struck Ms Clarke to the right side of her head above her ear with such force the blow knocked off her glasses and knocked out her dentures but luckily she landed on a wheelie bin rather than the ground.

Ms Clarke suffered eight stab wounds as she managed to fight off Hayes who rode off on a mountain bike. Hayes started the day of the attack in custody after he was arrested on suspicion of possessing cocaine with intent to supply and also a knife, said Mr Hall.

He was granted conditional bail by magistrates in Manchester after misleading information was given about his personal circumstances including a false address as a “stable residence” and that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, the court heard.

The defendant immediately collected his bike from a friend’s house in Oldham, along with a wooden-handled steak knife, and was then captured on CCTV scouting the area to find a lone woman.

In the second attack, Desma Shirley, 71, left her home at about 5.55pm on November 20 to walk to a local shop when Hayes grabbed her from behind in an alleyway in Stoneleigh Street.

He attempted to slit her throat but her coat and scarf got in the way and he ran off after Ms Shirley screamed for help.

On December 12 2019 Hayes was arrested after police released CCTV footage of the attacker. Examination of his phone revealed he downloaded images of knife wounds and a picture of a serial killer earlier the same day, while before the first attack he searched on the internet for “stabbing in the UK – YouTube” and “man stabbed 18 times in 25 seconds on train – YouTube”.

Hayes, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to two counts of attempted murder. Keith Sutton, defending, said his client was a “very different person” when not using drugs and that Hayes wished to apologise to everyone affected by his actions.

Knife used in one of the attacks by Jayden Hayes
Knife used in one of the attacks by Jayden Hayes

Sentencing Hayes to serve a minimum of 14 years in custody, Judge Conrad told him: “This is a chilling case in which you brought terror to the Oldham area and a case which demonstrates the effect that cannabis can have on a person’s mental health causing in you a psychosis which rendered you dangerous in the extreme.

“During this period you indulged in an obsession in stabbings and serial killing by making searches on the internet.”

He praised Ms Clarke and Ms Shirley as “impressive ladies who have shown great strength and character”.

The judge went on: “Attacks such as these are the stuff of nightmares and it is no surprise that both ladies have suffered nightmares and flashbacks since. They have both had their confidence shattered in going about their daily lives such as to amount to significant psychological harm in each case on top of the serious physical consequences.”

He said Ms Clarke showed “remarkable charity” when reading out her victim personal statement in court in which she said that she hoped Hayes received the help he needed to change his ways.