A 24-year-old woman has been left scarred for life after she became the victim of a vicious love triangle she knew nothing about.The first Priscilla Desouza knew of her boyfriend’s other lover was when the woman in question twice plunged a knife into her stomach.
The dental assistant feared she would die as blood poured from her wounds after the horrific attack at her then-partner’s bungalow in Southampton, Hampshire.Miss Desouza was attacked minutes after she and Stephen Foster had returned to his home to find it had been ransacked.
Ashten Smith, who has a six-month-old son with Mr Foster, had ruined his clothes with bleach and sprayed oil and ketchup over the floor after discovering he was two-timing her.Jealous Smith, also 24, had also dumped his Sky box in the sink and pushed his television off its stand.
She had then stormed out of the house, before Mr Foster and Miss Desouza returned to find the mess, Southampton Crown Court heard.
Miss Desouza had been helping to tidy up in the bathroom when Smith returned. Seizing a kitchen knife, Smith stabbed her twice – once above the right hip and again below the left rib cage.The blade had been thrust with such force that the handle broke in the attack, the court heard.
Smith then grabbed her stunned victim by the hair, dragging her into a bedroom where she put her in a headlock before viciously lashing out again with her fists.Mr Foster was only then able to drag Smith away and end the vicious attack. Believing she had only been punched, Miss Desouza ran to a neighbour’s in Southampton’s West End area.
It was not until she turned round and saw blood dripping down a white wall that she realised the extent of her injuries.Miss Desouza was rushed to Southampton General Hospital where doctors operated to repair her punctured stomach. She needed four days on the ward before she was allowed to continue her recovery at home.
Smith, of Southampton, was jailed for 12 years after a court found her guilty of wounding with intent. Miss Desouza immediately ended her relationship with Mr Foster, the court heard.
In her impact statement, she told the court she had lost her self-confidence and had been forced to rely on her family for financial support.
‘It is constantly in my mind how close to death I had come and the visual mess my body is,’ she said.
‘I still have nightmares. I constantly worry she will do this to me again or another innocent girl Stephen has lied to.
‘The only reason why I have put myself through this trial is because I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if she does this again, and God forbid another girl wouldn’t be as lucky as I was.’
‘My process of moving on will start with knowing I have had justiceAshten isn’t going to spend the rest of her life in prison but I will carry what she has done to my body, the physical and emotional scars, with me for the rest of my life.
‘I’m working on my self-esteem and confidence but feel it’s a long road ahead.She has made a different person, this has changed me and the person I am.’
Passing sentence, Judge Derwin Hope said that after the attack, Smith had shown clear indifference whether Miss Desouza lived or died.
‘The injuries you caused were serious and inflicted on a victim who was particularly vulnerable,’ he told Smith. ‘You carried out a sustained attack.’
Smith showed no emotion at the length of her sentence.In mitigation, Sophie Shotton accepted it was lucky Miss Desouza had not been more seriously injured.
She said of Smith: ‘Her hopes for a career in childcare will have to be abandoned.
‘She says she has grown up since this offence because of the shock of what occurred and because of the birth of her son.
‘She had a severe loss of self control when faced with her partner’s infidelity.’