Home News Gang ‘cut off man’s leg’ in motiveless attempted murder

Gang ‘cut off man’s leg’ in motiveless attempted murder

11 min read
Liam Whitaker attack

These three men have been described as gratuitous, violent and sadistic for the vicious attack they committed in one of Huddersfield’s most horrific incidents in recent memory.

With seemingly no motive, Max Lambert, Liam Whitaker and Liam Hanbury violently attacked a man after following the car he was in and then ambushing him when he arrived at his mother’s house in Spinners Close. The extent of the crime was so severe that it resulted in the man’s leg being chopped off.

About three weeks after Christmas, Lambert, 34, Whitaker, 39, and Hanbury went around the area where the man was living. On January 18, 2022, his cries for help alerted the neighbours to the terror of what he had experienced. Reports say that a machete broke during the assault. The trio had prepared by arming themselves with a machete, an axe and a sledgehammer.

It was reported that the reason behind the attack was “unclear”, however it was clearly premeditated.

The three then took drastic measures to hide their identity – even burning the vehicle they had used to get there – yet they didn’t think their victim would be able to identify them. When his shouts alerted the neighbours and the police were called, he indicated Lambert as one of the assailants.

Despite being charged, his ordeal was far from over. The fear of having to give evidence was so overwhelming that he was willing to face the possibility of jail time rather than face the victim again.

Max Lambert
Max Lambert //WYP

Leeds Crown Court heard at the sentence hearing on Wednesday that the man, who had surgery to stitch his leg back on after it had been severed below the knee, had failed to appear at the trial to give evidence.

The court heard that on January 28, 2022, when approached by an officer, the individual stated that he was “scared of repercussions if he gave his account to police.” His Honour Judge Tom Bayliss KC stated, “He appears to have been intimidated, and on May 6th he gave a statement.”

In his statement to the court, the man mentioned that he had heard that his life would be in danger if he testified in the trial. On June 6, he provided a statement that cleared the defendants and then failed to appear in court the following month, which led to his arrest. He was detained for approximately two weeks before finally testifying and exonerating the defendants. The prosecution was instructed to treat him as an unfriendly witness.

Judge Bayliss said: “He is paranoid and anxious and manifested itself in his behaviour.”

The court was informed of the defendants’ seemingly conventional backgrounds and family life. To the uninformed, Hanbury appeared to be the ideal family man, with kids and a long-term partner. He was also a businessman. Considering their respective backgrounds, the offenses they committed are even more perplexing and worrying.

Ayaz Qazi, mitigating for Hanbury, summarised a letter written by his partner of 17 years. He said she “speaks highly of his family dynamic, his love for his children and his focus in life he has always demonstrated towards them young children and speaks of activities he engages in and wellbeing issues he attends to.”

The barrister said: “She describes, having known of his criminal behaviour, how he is someone who has struggles.” The court heard at the time of his offending he “got up, well up on his feet in terms of business.”

Liam Hanbury
Liam Hanbury //WYP

Lambert’s attorney, Benjamin Newton, stated that the offence was “wholly out of character” for him. Lambert had formed his own firm, according to the court, and “it is quite clear he seemed to turn his life around after his last custodial sentence before this offence.”

Mr Newton stated that Lambert is a “attentive father” and that a sentence will have an impact on his children.

Whitaker represented himself and simply spoke to certify that his references had been received by the court. He has 29 prior offences, including robbery, conspiracy to burgle, violent disturbance, and assaulting a constable. Hanbury has 40 prior convictions for 89 crimes. His most recent job was in 2021 for road traffic incident. He has two prior convictions for ABH, common assault and battery, possession of an offensive weapon, and cannabis manufacture.

Lambert has 43 convictions, the most recent of which was for burglary. He also has previous for GBH.

It was said for the defendants that their violent convictions had taken place when they were younger. For Lambert, Mr Newton said: “As an adult it’s mostly dishonesty or production of cannabis. There is a very small spree of offending when he was 15.” These offences include a robbery. Mr Newton said after a detention and training order he did not commit another offence of violence.

Lambert, of Romanby Shaw, Bradford, was convicted of attempted murder after a trial that ended in September of last year. Whitaker, of Poplarwood Gardens in Bradford, and Hanbury, of St Paul’s Road in Shipley, were both found guilty in a retrial in December.

They were all given prison sentences of 30 years. They have to spend at least three-quarters of that time in jail before being considered by the Parole Board to decide if they can be safely released. Upon being released, they must be on license for five years. It was determined that they were all dangerous offenders.

Hanbury must also serve a consecutive 19-week sentence for possession of cannabis.

The scene at the time //OC

Judge Bayliss said the offence of attempted murder was “Gratituous, violent, bordering on sadistic and involved a number of weapons.”

He added: “This was a carefully planned offence in which of you had a clear aim to kill [the victim.]”

Following the sentence Detective Inspector Rob Stevens of West Yorkshire Police, said: “These three men inflicted dreadful injuries on their victim in what was a brutal assault which we and two jury’s believed was a clear attempt to commit murder. Their attack on the victim resulted in him suffering life changing injuries and the savagery of their attack has been reflected in the very substantial sentences handed down by the courts.

“These men were swiftly tracked down and arrested in a comprehensive police investigation following the attack and I hope the victim can take some comfort from seeing these men jailed for such lengthy periods.”

Do you have a story about your local area? Email Jabari.Cubane@tgmco.uk.

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