University drop-out guilty of knife attack on four officers
Alex Traykov was convicted at the Old Bailey of three counts of wounding with intent and a fourth charge of attempted wounding with intent.
A university drop-out has been found guilty of a knife attack on four police officers which was caught on horrifying CCTV footage.
Alex Traykov, 20, used the alias “Solomon” when he rang 999 to report a fight at a house in Islington, north London, on the evening of October 6 last year.
He then lay in wait with a large kitchen knife hidden behind his back in the hallway of his friend’s flat.
The Old Bailey heard that within three minutes, four police constables arrived on the doorstep completely unprepared for the “extreme violence” about to be unleashed on them.
Traykov was cleared of attempted murder but convicted of three counts of wounding with intent and a fourth charge of attempted wounding with intent. The jury deliberated for eight hours to reach verdicts by a majority of 10 to two.
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC had told jurors: “Without hesitation or warning and certainly without the slightest provocation from the officers, he raised his right hand and proceeded to attack the officers.”
Traykov brought the blade down onto the head of Pc Istarlin Said-Ali, 31, cutting her hand as she warded off a second blow.
He lunged at Pc Rafal Kedziora, 34, cutting his face and slashing the back of his neck.
He went on to attack Pc Ben Thomson, 40, before he was finally brought down by Pc Launa Watkins, 39, who Tasered him twice.
Pc Said-Ali told jurors that Traykov was “emotionless” in the moments before he produced the blade.
She said: “As soon as I said ‘he’s definitely got something in his hand’, he launched towards me with a raised hand, a knife in his hand.
“At the time I did not see a knife, but I saw a metal glint and I automatically knew it could only be a knife.
“I tried to protect myself so naturally I raised my arms. He tried to attack me with the knife. He made contact, hitting my middle finger and also to the back of my head.
“I had gone backwards down the stairs. We all fell on top of each other.”
Giving evidence at the Old Bailey, Traykov, who lived with his estate agent mother in Redhill, Surrey, accepted he had injured the officers but denied he meant them serious harm.
The former Winchester University history student said he was so “high” on strong cannabis he was not thinking straight.
He claimed he had called 999 to play a “prank” on his friend then forgotten all about it and made crumpets with jam.
Traykov was still holding a knife he had used to make food when he answered the door, he claimed.
He told jurors: “I have felt terrible since I came to prison and I have thought about it every day, tried to reason and live with it.
“I thought about the officers, how they were injured, and now I have seen them in court it’s 10 times worse for me.”
The jury deliberated for eight hours to reach its verdicts by a majority of 10 to 2.
The four injured police officers sat together wearing their dress uniforms as they were delivered.
Traykov, who made no reaction in the dock, was remanded into custody.
Judge Wendy Joseph QC queried why the young man of previously good character had “gone off the rails”.
She said he faced a “substantial” prison term when he is sentenced on May 10.
The judge asked for statements from the officers, saying there must have been a “psychological effect of finding yourself out of the blue believing that they were going to die”.
Following the verdict, the officers spoke of the mental and physical impact of the attack.
Pc Thomson said: “This has been the most stressful period in my life, both personally and for my family.
I joined this job to protect people and uphold the law. My colleagues and I did our duty on that night, and we were subjected to an unprovoked savage attack at the hands of the defendant.
“We all suffered injury as a result, but fortunately we were able to fight back and ultimately we survived, and our physical injuries have or will heal over time.
“Who can say how we have been injured mentally and whether we will ever come to terms with what we experienced.”
Pc Watkins said: “When I attended the call that night it was with the intention of protecting the public, I didn’t realise it would in fact be me, and my colleagues, who would be fighting for our lives at the hands of a knife wielding 19-year-old, who had lured us to the address with the intention of carrying out the attack.
“I have never been subjected to such a violent and determined attack in the entirety of my 16 years of service, and I hope that no other officer ever has to endure such gratuitous violence.
Luckily that night, myself and my colleagues were determined to never give up and to stay alive and fight, despite us all suffering injuries at the hands of this individual.”
Pc Kedziora told how officers face “ruthless criminals” every day who had “zero regard for the value of life”.
“I and my colleagues came to work that evening to protect and serve the community, I have been left with life-changing injuries that my family and I are continuing to come to terms with, and the mental scars may never heal,” the officer said.
Pc Said-Ali described a “roller coaster of emotions” over the past six months.
She said: “Although we are police officers, we are human beings just like the communities we serve.
“We should be able to go to work and do the job we have chosen to do without a fear of not going home to our loved ones at the end of our shift.
“It is my hope that justice will be served and I hope this can stand in some way as a line drawn in the sand.
“I hope it serves to make any person thinking of using a knife against another person to consider the consequences, including those to their own families and friends, understanding that if they do, they will be dealt with robustly and that the judicial process will seek the harshest sentence tariff in order to protect police officers and the law abiding public.”
Detective Constable Ed Sehmer, the officer in the case, said: “This whole attack lasted only about 30 seconds, but was a traumatic and terrifying ordeal for officers, who were only going about their duty.
“Events such as this highlight the courageous work that police do every day, sometimes having to confront violent and dangerous criminals, who are determined to do them harm.
“These officers went to help someone they believed was in need of police assistance, not realising they were being lured to a trap and a chilling ambush awaited them.
“If my colleagues had not reacted so quickly to protect each other, the result of that night could have been deadly.”