A TAKEAWAY owner was stabbed in the neck by a chef he refused to employ.
After a short trial period, Ji Can Li did not believe Chong Seng had the skill to be taken on permanently at China Cook, in Canterbury Street, South Shields, and told him his application had been unsuccessful.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the kind-hearted boss gave Seng a bed for the night when he said he had nowhere to go and paid him for the work he had done.
It was when the 46-year-old was about to leave the next morning that he attacked Mr Li with a 10-inch kitchen knife.
The wound to Mr Li’s neck was just millimetres from being fatal.
The injured owner had to fight off the knifeman for 15 minutes as he tried to stab him again.
Passer-by Gavin Burn was commended by a judge for stepping in to help stop the attack when he heard the victim’s wife’s screams.
He also gave chase and caught the knifeman who had tried to flee.
Seng, of no fixed address, was initially charged with attempted murder but it was dropped when prosecutors on Friday accepted his guilty plea to the lesser charge of wounding with intent.
Judge John Milford QC jailed Seng for four years and recommended the illegal immigrant’s deportation.
The judge said: “Fortunately a passer-by, who is to be commended for his prompt action, intervened and saved the victim from suffering worse injury than he did, which was a two to three centimetre laceration to the back of his neck.
“It was one centimetre deep at its deepest point and had the position of it been slightly different, said the doctor, it could well have been fatal.” The court heard Mr Li had advertised the vacancy at his restaurant on a website he had used before.
On July 8, Seng came in for a trial period but Mr Li did not think he had the “skill and attitude” to be taken on.
Mr Li said Seng could stay at his home, which is above the take-away, as it was too late for him to travel to Darlington.
As Seng was due to leave the next morning he picked up a knife from the kitchen and attacked Mr Li.
Prosecutor Nick Dry told the court: “Mr Li was struck to the back of the neck and initially beieved he was being punched.
“Upon turning around he realised the defendant had a 10-inch kitchen knife, which was later found to have been taken from the kitchen of the take-away.”
The court heard Mrs Li started shouting for help and Gavin Burn heard her screams as he passed the take-away and stepped in.
Seng said afterwards the attack was “no big deal” and would mean he would get sent home.
“Mr Li had to fight the defendant off for around 15 minutes as he tried to stab him, largely to the stomach area.