England: An illegal immigrant from North Korea who nearly killed a Chinese housemate in a knife attack has been jailed
North Korean national Ri Cheng stabbed Shang Nan Lee four times during a fight over a cigarette.
Mr Lee needed emergency surgery and was placed on a life-support machine after the attack in summer 2005.
Cheng, 43, and his Chinese victim were among eight people living in the house.
At a party to celebrate one of them getting a job in London, the two men argued and had to be parted by friends.
Teesside Crown Court heard that Cheng went to his room upstairs and called Mr Lee to ask him to follow to sort out their differences.
But Mr Lee was said to have gone armed with a stick and Cheng reacted by picking up a 20cm knife to defend himself.
Timothy Bubb, mitigating, said Cheng did not intend to cause his friend harm, but was reckless during a scuffle.
Mr Lee suffered two puncture wounds to his left side, near his rib cage, and two on the right which damaged his liver.
Christopher Attwooll, prosecuting, said doctors classed the victim as being at high risk of death when he turned up at hospital.
Mr Lee had two-and-a-half litres of blood drained from his abdomen, and needed a transfusion of six litres after the incident, on August 24.
Cheng left the house in Norton Road, Stockton, and spent more than a year on the run before being arrested for shoplifting in London last October.
Yesterday, he was jailed for two years after he admitted unlawful wounding.
Judge David Bryant told Cheng: "You stabbed Mr Lee four times and you inflicted very serious injuries on him so that for a while . . . his life was in the balance."
Mr Bubb told the court Cheng fled with his family from North Korea to China, but left for the UK when it appeared immigrant workers were to be rounded up.
Although he had been denied asylum in Britain, a fresh application could be made when Cheng has served his sentence because of the situation in his homeland.
Mr Bubb said: "One of the difficulties the Home Office will face is that if the North Korean authorities know he has been working in China as someone who has fled North Korea, he will be very much at risk - even with his life."
With Britain's silly immigration rules, I doubt this guy will ever be deported no matter how many people he attacks.