Barman is jailed for 20 years for trying to murder his boss’s boyfriend in revenge after she spurned his advances
- Alexander Cornell, 29, had an ‘ungovernable desire for revenge,’ a judge said
- Cornell of Ipswich denied attempted murder, but was found guilty after a trial
A restaurant barman who was ‘infatuated’ with his boss and tried to murder her boyfriend with a zombie knife was jailed for 20 years today.
Alexander Cornell, 29, repeatedly asked his general manager at The Miller & Carter steakhouse Claire Spurgeon to go out with him but she spurned his advances, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
The trial heard how he repeatedly bought Miss Spurgeon gifts during five years working together, including gymwear and even underwear as a Secret Santa present which she considered ‘extremely inappropriate’.
He also used her picture as a background on his Apple watch and allegedly joined three different gyms she belonged to after she changed gyms to get away from him.
His obsession with her spilled over into violence after she rekindled her relationship with long term partner Blazej Piortowski following a brief split.
Cornell lay in wait for the chef and plunged a curved zombie knife into his neck from behind as he returned to his car in the Parkway multi storey car park in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
Alexander Cornell, 29, who has been jailed for 20 years for attempted murder
Claire Spurgeon, the manager of the Miller & Carter steakhouse in Ipswich
Blazej Piortowski, who was stabbed with a zombie knife and survived the attack
Mr Piortowski survived the attack which prosecutors described as ‘a deliberate ambush’. He recognised Cornell and told him: ‘I see who you are. They are going to find you’.
Cornell of Ipswich denied attempted murder, but was found guilty by a ten to two jury majority verdict after a trial in January.
He was also given a five year extended sentence after a judge ruled that he had an ‘ungovernable desire for revenge’ and was a danger to the public.
Cornell had denied carrying out the attack on July 4 last year because he had a ‘passion’ for his boss at the Miller & Carter steakhouse in Ipswich.
Instead, he told probation officers that it was because he believed Mr Piortowski had behaved badly towards her.
But Judge Martyn Levett said it was clear that he had carried out his ‘murderous attack’ out of revenge and his infatuation with mother-of-two Miss Spurgeon.
The judge told him: ‘I don’t regard it as being a moment of madness. It was strategically planned with preparation beforehand.
‘It was down to the oldest tale in the book – your jealousy and desire for revenge. It was your intent to remove Mr Piortowski to hopefully clear the way to shower Miss Spurgeon with more affection.
‘To say you had no feelings towards her is absurd. You worked with her for five years and repeatedly asked her out, but she made it clear that it would never happen. Despite her not leading you on, you never gave up.’
The defendant allegedly joined three different gyms his boss belonged to after she changed gyms to get away from him
Cornell was given a five year extended sentence after a judge ruled that he had an ‘ungovernable desire for revenge’ and was a danger to the public
Read more: Injured mother of ‘murdered’ Olivia Pratt-Korbel screamed ‘she’s dying’ as she begged to be taken to same hospital as her daughter after nine-year-old was shot by balaclava clad gunman who chased man into the family home, court hears
Judge Levett said he believed that Cornell had been ‘irked’ by Miss Spurgeon and Mr Piortowski getting back together after their split.
He said that the barman must have watched Mr Piortowski leave her house in Ipswich early in the morning and followed him for 30 miles in his car as he drove to work a shift at Bill’s restaurant in Bury St Edmunds.
CCTV pictures showed Cornell driving into the car park just nine seconds after the chef, and then lying in wait for him for more than eight hours before attacking him as he returned to his car at around 2.30pm
Judge Levett ruled that Cornell was at ‘high risk of re-offending’ and ‘possessed a significant risk of causing serious harm to the public’.
He told him: ‘You have an ungovernable desire for revenge of any person you see to be a rival. It is entrenched in your character and something you cannot control.’
The judge added that a ‘high degree of planning’ had gone into the attack, saying: ‘There was nothing impulsive or unplanned about what you did.’
The court heard how police found a ‘substantial’ cache of swords and blades in Cornell’s bedstead after the attack.
He admitted wounding with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm at an earlier hearing and the judge ordered the charge to remain on file.
Cornell was given a concurrent 12 month sentence after he earlier admitted having a blade in a public place, and a concurrent 28 days jail for having blades in a private place.
The Miller & Carter Steakhouse in Ipswich where Alexander Cornell, 29, worked with Claire Spurgeon
Cornell of Ipswich denied attempted murder, but was found guilty by a ten to two jury majority verdict after a trial in January
The court heard how police found a ‘substantial’ cache of swords and blades in Cornell’s bedstead after the attack
He was also given a restraining order banning him from contacting Miss Spurgeon or Mr Piortowski, and was ordered to forfeit all his weapons for destruction.
Miss Spurgeon described Cornell as being ‘very odd and a bit like a child’ who was ‘infatuated and border line obsessed’ with her.
She said in a statement: ‘He never touched me inappropriately, but he asked me out numerous times over the years. I always said ‘No’ and was clear that I had a partner.
‘I have made him cry on numerous occasions, just making it clear to him that it was never going to happen. I never gave him any indication that there was a chance.
‘On occasions he would send me messages which I found very creepy. On my son’s recent birthday he sent him a card with £50 cash inside which I found very strange and over the top.’
Miss Spurgeon said Cornell had sent presents of gymwear to her home on her last three birthdays. When she told him off about the gifts, he bought her flowers the next day.
Other gifts sent to her home included a red dress which was delivered three-years-ago, leading Ms Spurgeon to think she might have ordered it and forgotten about it.
When she posted a picture of herself wearing it on Instagram, Cornell sent her a message saying: ‘I am glad you like the dress’. She added: ‘That is when I realised. I have not worn it since.’
Two days before her partner was stabbed, she received a pink bikini in the post and assumed that it was Cornell who ordered it for her.
She went on: ‘I find the best way is to ignore his behaviour. If I tell him off it makes his behaviour worse. It’s almost as if he thrives on the attention.
‘A few weeks ago at work, a colleague of mine saw he had a picture of me saved as background on his Apple watch.
‘He apologised and said he would change it, but a week ago another colleague said he still had it.
‘I changed [the] gym three times and each time he ends up at the new one. He has also now joined my sunbed shop. I find this really creepy as it seems like he is following me wherever I go.’
She added that Cornell seemed ‘happy and almost encouraging’ when she broke up with her partner a few months before the attack.
But she said she had got back together with Mr Piortowski about three weeks before he was stabbed, and would see him once or twice a week.
A work colleague Heather Johnson said Cornell had ‘a lack of social skill and an ‘obsessive personality’ with ‘a reputation for being creepy and weird’.
She added that he ‘spent a lot of time watching everyone’ and ‘hiding around corners listening to conversations’.
But she went on: ‘Alex was meek and mild. I never found him aggressive. But in some ways he was childlike with mood swings and tantrums.’
Ms Johnson said that colleagues were well aware that Cornell was infatuated with their ‘bubbly and tactile’ boss.
She added: ‘He made it clear when he joined the team that he was a virgin and had never had a girlfriend.
‘In no way do I condone his behaviour. His reactions were horrendous. He is a troubled person who needs help.’
Cornell seemed ‘happy and almost encouraging’ when his boss broke up with her partner a few months before the attack
Cornell’s Facebook account showed he once owned a bat’leth sword – a fearsome curved blade used by the Klingons in the Star Trek sci-fi franchise. The Bat’leth knife was not used in the attack and was not among the blades seized by police
Another colleague Ewa Sak added: ‘He was very quiet and never said much. I was aware that Alex liked Claire. They went to the gym together and trained together. Alex was always the first person to comment on Facebook on Claire’s pictures.
‘I told Alex he needed to find someone else. Sometimes Alex convinced himself she would be his wife. His comments were often sexual. I was aware he was buying her lots of inappropriate presents including latex gymwear and birthday gifts for her children.’
Steven Dyble, defending, described the stabbing as unsophisticated, saying Cornell had not attempted to cover his face.
He added that Cornell had been a model prisoner, had expressed remorse and had no intention of trying to see Miss Surgeon or Mr Piortowski again.
Cornell’s Facebook account showed he once owned a bat’leth sword – a fearsome curved blade used by the Klingons in the Star Trek sci-fi franchise.
It was bought in 2016 and shown off in a photo on Facebook. Asked what it was for, he posted: ‘Oh you don’t want to know lol.’
The Bat’leth knife was not used in the attack and was not among the blades seized by police.
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