5:13pm Friday 6th September 2013
By Neil Hunter
A DRUNKEN man who knifed a friend after he sympathised with murdered soldier Lee Rigby was today (Friday, September 6) jailed for five years.
Ziko Sulliman, a Muslim from Sudan, attacked Zakaria Zain in a dispute days after the squaddie was hacked to death.
The pair had been together in Sulliman's home in Middlesbrough when a report of the killing appeared on the television news.
It is said the friends argued and fought after Mr Zain - also a Sudanese national - commented about "how bad it was".
He left the house in Aire Street for his home in nearby Fife Street but was followed, and slashed across the face.
Another pal - another Muslim from Sudan, Khalid Osman - tried to intervene, and was also injured with the knife.
Sulliman admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent, unlawful wounding and having a bladed article on May 28.
His lawyer, Andrew Teate, said the 27-year-old gets close to tears when he recalls how he badly injured his "good friend".
Police said Mr Zain suffered a three-inch wound to his cheek, an abrasion on his neck and a cut to his left thigh.
The other man was slashed across the hand as he tried to pull the attacker off his friend as they fought on a sofa.
Mr Teate told Judge George Moorhouse: "It is alcohol that has played a very significant part in this offending.
"The incident has caused a great deal of distress to him - that he has injured his friend.
"He says he wishes he could turn back time and re-think the actions of that night."
Sulliman was arrested in a street near the scene, but claimed to have been at home with his girlfriend at the time of the stabbing.
Prosecutor Rachel Masters told the court that when he was quizzed, he said his two friends were lying about him being the attacker.
Judge Moorhouse told him: "Your record for drunk and disorderly and two batteries reaffirms my belief that drink is a serious problem for you."
Private Rigby died after being attacked as he returned to his barracks in Woolwich, south east London, on May 22.
The 25-year-old Royal Regiment of Fusiliers drummer, from Bury, Greater Manchester, had been on a recruitment drive.
Two men - Michael Adeboloja, 28, and 22-year-old Michael Adebowale - have been charged with his murder.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group