Ex-horse trainer jailed for stabbing friend, housemate

·2-min read

A trail of blood ran across the lounge room, into the kitchen and across grass in the backyard, leading police to find Jennifer King.

Struggling to breathe with a punctured lung, she had been stabbed by her housemate, former Flemington horse trainer Thomas Hughes.

While profusely bleeding from her chest and legs, she had tried to walk to a locked back gate after being attacked. She collapsed in the laundry and spent five days in hospital recovering.

Hughes, 56, had recently moved in with Ms King when he stabbed her up to three times in the unprovoked attack at their Ascot Vale sharehouse.

In the midst of a psychotic episode, Hughes falsely believed his housemate was trying to gas and poison him.

That same day, on August 8, 2022, he locked long-term friend Simon Gray in his car and plunged a knife into his stomach.

"I'm going to kill you, you f***ing dog," Hughes told Mr Gray.

Racing Victoria placed alerts across racetracks across Melbourne to look out for Hughes after the double stabbing. His parents' nursing home was also placed on alert.

Hughes spent that evening and the next morning calling around and telling people he had stabbed two people, including his favourite fish and chip shop and a Racing Victoria deputy chairman.

He was arrested on May 9 after police spotted him driving between Yarraville and Kensington. He tried to flee from them and drove into a tree, fracturing his ribs.

Hughes pleaded guilty to two charges of reckless conduct causing injury, and one each of threats to kill, false imprisonment, failing to stop for police and driving dangerously.

He had reached the lowest ebb in his life after his business, which he took over from his father - a legendary horse trainer of the same name - had collapsed.

He was in the grip of an escalating gambling addiction, a 15-year relationship had ended and he'd lost contact with his kids. He then got kicked out of his previous home for failing to pay rent.

Magistrate Jarrod Williams sentenced Hughes to 12 months in prison on Wednesday, in combination with a two-year community corrections order.

Having already served nine months, Hughes will be eligible for release from prison by August.

The attacks were serious, unprovoked, unexpected and Hughes was lucky his victims were not more seriously injured, Mr Williams said.

However, he found Hughes had good rehabilitation prospects and would benefit from mental health support outside prison as custody was more difficult for him.

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