A taxi driver was stabbed when he put himself between a knifeman and the woman he was "despicably" attacking.

Anwar Hussen, 43, showed "extreme bravery" as he stepped into protect the 36-year-old woman from Khaled Ahmed in the early hours of the morning on July 3 last year in Vicarage Road, Watford.

Ahmed, a 39-year-old illegal immigrant from Bangladesh, also caused wounds to the woman’s nephew’s right hand that are so bad he can no longer work as a chef, St Albans crown court heard.

Ahmed, of Grenadier Close, St Albans pleaded guilty to three charges of wounding with intent and one of possessing a knife.

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Khaled Ahmed has been jailed for 18 years (Herts Police)

Prosecutor Stefan Weidmann said Ahmed had wanted the woman to marry him so he could stay in the country.

He said it was Ahmed’s “fervent hope” for a marriage to her that would legalise his right to stay in the UK.

But after she refused, the woman, her nephew and Ahmed met at the Kasturi restaurant in Vicarage Road where they agreed a plan for her to repay £5,400 Ahmed had given her.

Mr Weidmann told the court: “She refused repeated requests to marry. The refusals gave rise to threats of violence from the defendant - threats to kill and to harm her children in her native Bangladesh.

“The defendant finally accepted she would not marry him. So he declared that all the money he had given her in the months prior was to be repaid to him.”

An amount of £100 a month was agreed.

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Police in Vicarage Road

Outside, the nephew thought Ahmed was about to shake his hand to make up. Instead Ahmed lunged at him, stabbing his right thigh.

The court heard that as he went to grab the knife, the nephew suffered serious injuries to his fingers.

Ahmed then stabbed the woman a total of nine times both outside and inside the restaurant and at one point chased her around cars in the street.

He was seen to hold the knife above his head and brought it down.

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Mr Hussen, who did not know anybody involved, got out of his taxi and ran after Ahmed and the woman. He caught up with them back in the restaurant, where Ahmed stabbed her again.

Mr Weidmann said: “Mr Hussen got between them and partially tripped. He was on one knee. He put his palms onto the defendant’s middle to prevent further attack.

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“He was stabbed once to upper left side of the torso.”

Ahmed fled the area in a taxi, to an address in Barnet. He gave himself up later that day at Forest Green police station in London.

The woman was taken to St Mary’s Hospital with life-threatening injuries, having lost a significant amount of blood. She was in hospital for 16 days.

Her nephew was in Watford hospital for 10 days and can no longer work as a chef. Mr Hussen was treated for a single wound to the left side of his chest.

In a victim personal statement the woman said: “I thought this was my end and I was going to die there. His face was dark and his eyes were bulging out. I genuinely feared for my life. I did not see the knife.

“If it were not for the actions of this stranger who got in Khaled's way and allowed me to flee and my nephew, I believe I would have been killed. I owe them my life to this day.”

The nephew said he was earning a full-time wage supporting his wife and four children, but is now on statutory sick pay. He said the injury to his right hand made two fingers look like a “claw.”

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Police cordon in Vicarage Road

Mr Hussen said: “I really believe it was the defendant’s intention to kill the female. I did not consider my safety, only that I must stop this man. Only with hindsight I realise how terrifying it was.”

Defending, William Ryan said the defendant had not accepted the threats were made. “He does not accept his intention was to legalise his status by marrying her. He wanted the money repaid.” There is no evidence he brought a knife with him, he added.

Ahmed appeared for sentence via a video link yesterday (Tuesday, February 4) from Bedford prison. He was jailed for a total of 18 years.

Jailing him, Judge Michael Kay said Ahmed had shown "Nil remorse.”

He said: “This was a horrific, extremely violent attack. It was entirely unprovoked and left 2 people with very severe injuries, which have been life-changing.”

When released, he said he expected Ahmed to be deported.

Mr Hussen is to be awarded £750.

Detective Constable Marius Edghill, from the Watford Local Crime Unit, said: “This was a despicable attack which almost cost a woman her life. Thankfully, following extensive surgery, she has been able to recover from her injuries, but will never get over the emotional trauma of what happened to her. Her nephew has also been left with permanent injuries as a result.

“I would like to commend the bravery of the taxi driver who stepped in to intervene on the night. If it hadn’t been for him, the outcome could have been very different.”

Ahmed's sentences will run consecutively. He was sentenced to:

  • 10 years for the attack on the woman
  • Five years for the attack on her nephew
  • Three years for the attack on the taxi driver