Woman who was knifed in the back by a stranger aged just 17 reveals

Woman who was given a 1% chance of survival after she was stabbed in the back at the age of 17 says she ‘forgives’ the man responsible and doesn’t want him to ‘hate himself’ for what he did

  • Kayleigh Whit, 23, knifed in back by stranger in Yeovil, Somerset in 2015, aged 17
  • Given 1% chance of survival and surgeons battled for 10 hours to save her life 
  • Lee Jeffries-Jones, 31, plunged the knife so deep that it chopped her kidney in half, snipped top off her pancreas, pierced her stomach, and damaged spleen
  • On 4th of February 2016, he was jailed for 20 years at Taunton Crown Court

A woman who was given just a one per cent chance of survival when she was knifed in the back by a stranger aged just 17 has told how she ‘forgives’ her attacker.

In the first episode of Survivors with Denise Welch, the TV personality speaks to Kayleigh Whit, 23, who, aged just 17, was knifed in the back by a stranger in Yeovil, Somerset, in June 2015 while walking to the house of her best friend, Liv.

Lee Jeffries-Jones, 31, grabbed Kayleigh and plunged the knife into her – the blade going so deep that it chopped her kidney in half, snipped the top off her pancreas, pierced her stomach, and damaged her spleen.

On the 4th of February 2016, Lee Jeffries-Jones was jailed for 20 years at Taunton Crown Court. He pleaded guilty to attempted murder for Kayleigh’s attack and two other counts of wounding with intent. He won’t be eligible for parole until 2026.

Kayleigh, who admitted to suffering with PTSD and would wake up in the night with her ‘whole body jolting as if it was being repeatedly stabbed’ following the unprovoked attack, says that she ‘forgives’ her attacker. 

‘I wanted him to know so he can stop hating himself, that I forgive him,’ she explains. ‘I said it, in court. He cried. It was emotional. 

The first episode of Survivors with Denise Welch focuses on the story of survivor Kayleigh Whit (pictured left), now 23, who, aged just 17, was knifed in the back by a stranger in Yeovil, Somerset, in June 2015 while walking to the house of her best friend, Liv

On the 4th of February 2016, Lee Jeffries-Jones (pictured) was jailed for 20 years at Taunton Crown Court. He pleaded guilty to attempted murder for Kayleigh’s attack and two other counts of wounding with intent. He won’t be eligible for parole until 2026

‘Imagine doing one thing wrong and being punished for it for your whole life. It’d make your life not worth living. I think everyone has their own silent battles and because I feel he is genuinely remorseful, how can you live a life hating yourself every single day for what you’ve done, if all you can do is apologise?’ 

Kayleigh’s mum Louise adds: ‘In some ways I feel sorry for him. I can’t forgive him for what he’s done to my daughter.’ 

On a sunny day in June, Kayleigh was walking up the road when she saw three guys stood together having an argument.

‘I just saw this big blue arm come across my chest and pull me tight,’ she explains. ‘I immediately knew who it was because of the blue. I’d just seen him two minutes ago. I just felt like I’d been hugged. He just pulled me in.

‘He whispered in my ear “are you alright?” I was about to reply and I felt this really quick in and out in my back.’

She continues: ‘The knife went through my kidney and essentially split it in half, snipped off the end of my pancreas and my spleen, and pierced the back of my stomach.’ 

Kayleigh, who describes the weapon as ‘almost like a bread knife,’ says she fell to the floor immediately but, realising her attacker was standing over her, managed to drag herself to her friend’s house, where she begged for help. 

‘I didn’t look back, to see if he was following me, I just ran, ran into Liv’s back garden which was about ten paces away,’ she explains. ‘I did very quickly realise what had happened, I didn’t think about the severity of what happened. All I remember feeling after was just warm. I could just feel myself bleeding out.’

By sheer luck, Liv’s brother was just about to leave the house to go to the house of a friend. I was dying right in front of them, I just had to get in the front of that car.’

But once in the car, there was another surprise in store. 

‘I was looking out the back window and he was stood in the middle of the road in his blue tracksuit waving his knife around,’ Kayleigh continues.

Kayleigh, who describes the weapon as ‘like a bread knife,’ told how she fell to the floor immediately but, realising her attacker was standing over her, managed to drag herself to her friend’s house, where she begged for help

The documentary features contributions from Kayleigh, her mother Louise (pictured, together), best friend Liv who was with Kaleigh shortly after the attack

Quick-thinking Kayleigh asked Liv to take a photo of her attacker who, high on a mixture of drugs and alcohol, was still holding the bread knife: this was later used as evidence in court.

They then rushed to the hospital, with Liv cradling Kayleigh in the back seat of the car, using a towel to put pressure on the wound.

‘I was conscious and then not – in and out all the time,’ Kayleigh explains. ‘Every time I woke up I could hear Liv crying and squeezing me really tight and touching my face and saying, “she’s really cold mum, I think shes dead, she’s blue. I don’t know what to do mum – help me.”‘ 

Lee later attacked a mother washing her car, stabbing her in the arm, and a dad putting his baby into a car seat. 

Luckily, the knife snapped as he attacked the man, who managed to overpower and detain him. Lee had been out of jail for just two months when he launched the attack, following a previous jail term for burglary. 

During an extensive 10-hour surgery to stop the bleeding, which left her with 40 staples in her body, Kayleigh initially pleaded with doctors to let her die as the pain was unbearable.

‘I screamed at them to let me die,’ she says. ‘At this point, I told them I’ve done what I needed to do, I’ve spoken to my mum, just let me go, I don’t want to feel this pain any more. That was it for me.’

Survivors with Denise Welch (pictured) explores what it means to live with the trauma of enduring and surviving horrific crimes and the incredible effort and courage required to rebuild a life in the aftermath

‘I squeezed my mum, I squeezed her hand and they put me to sleep.’  

Kayleigh was in the hospital for four months, and once home, became addicted to the prescribed but highly addictive opioid Tapentadol. 

She also battled alcohol addiction, and up to 18 months after the attack, had to hold her mother’s hand if she left the house due to the ordeal’s trauma.

Prior to her attack Kayleigh had hoped to become a police officer and study forensics, but because of her experience, she was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. As a result, she is unable to join the force.

‘Every time I dropped off to sleep I’d wake up in the night and my whole body was jolting as if it was being stabbed repeatedly,’ she explains. ‘I started taking my sleeping tablets and then a cocktail of drugs.’  

She continues: ‘I don’t recognise the person that I was when I was so deep into the addiction. It was tough.’ 

‘I still struggle with pain. I was rejected from the police force due to what had happened to me. It wasn’t my fault, I’d done what I needed to do, but because of what somebody else had done to me it changed my life.’ 

Speaking of the day she faced her attacker in court, Kayleigh recalls: ‘He was calm. He just looked so sad. I just spent ages looking at his hands because those hands tried to kill me, but the way he was with me, didn’t fit with what happened. He just looked really sorry for what he had done.’

‘He stood up, he looked in my eyes and told me he was sorry, and that I’m really brave and a credit to my family and that I didn’t deserve what happened to me.’ 

The brand new and exclusive six-part series Survivors with Denise Welch premieres on CRIME+INVESTIGATION, with the first episode airing on Monday 19th April at 9pm. Episodes will be available for 30 days on catch up.

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