A woman who nearly died 20 years ago after being abducted as a nine-year-old and knifed repeatedly by a twisted 11-year-old thug told how she is still haunted by the attack.
Kitrina McKenzie, 29, no longer has flashbacks from the harrowing ordeal but hopes intensive therapy will help her to cope with the trauma she suffered.
On October 23, 2000, when Kitrina was a pretty nine-year-old schoolgirl with a blonde bob, she was abducted at knifepoint from outside her grandmother’s home in Longstone, Edinburgh, by a child who lived on the same street – Darren Cornelius, 11.
Savage Cornelius forced her onto a bus and took her to an underground carpark at the city’s Fountain Park leisure complex, where he knifed her eight times, including in the neck and stomach.
Kitrina only survived the attack because of the intervention of Sarah Hardie, now 46, who found her when she staggered towards a bus stop and collapsed.
The women were reunited for the first time recently, close to the anniversary of the horror crime.
Cornelius escaped prosecution due to a legal loophole and went on to become a repeat knife offender, including a frenzied blade attack on a stranger in 2007, and slashing a fellow prisoner as recently as 2018.
He was not prosecuted for attempted murder relating to Kitrina, as his defence argued he had a mental age below eight, then the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland.
Cornelius was locked up in secure accommodation for 17 months, but Kitrina says was let off around halfway through his sentence, and her family had to take civil action to get a restraining order to stop him abusing her.
He was branded ‘Scotland’s most dangerous teenager’ and became one of the first people to be handed a lifelong restriction order.
The leniency of the punishment is still a source of pain to Kitrina and her family.
Kitrina warned: “He’s 100 per cent still a threat and always will be.
“He got off far too lightly for my liking.
“I had to get a restraining order because my gran lived at one end of the street and he lived at the other.
“My gran and family are still angry because the sentence he got was ridiculous.
“He got tried at a children’s panel which was disgusting.
“He should’ve got tried in an adult court.
“He’d just moved to the area. I think it was a house swap or something.
“Nobody knew him or his background.”
Medics at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh said Kitrina was lucky to be alive after the blade narrowly missed her liver.
She also suffered wounds to her left elbow and left leg, and spent a week in hospital recovering, with scars to remind her of her ordeal.
Kitrina said: “I remember most of it, and waking up in the ambulance and in hospital.
“I used to get flashbacks after it happened when I was young, but it’s still always on my mind.
“I don’t think it’ll ever be completely behind me.”
She is hopeful intensive therapy will help deal with the trauma.
Kitrinia, who lives in Livingston, West Lothian, added: “I had not too bad a childhood growing up, but it’s affected me as I’ve got older.
“I should’ve been recovered psychologically by now, but it’s been the same.
“It’s been mentally hard and mentally draining.
“It takes a while to trust people and I don’t don’t like to be out in the dark either.”
She had appealed to find the person who came to her aid, believing she owes her life to the Good Samaritan.
Kitrina and Sarah spent around two hours chatting.
Kitrina said: “It was good to get that closure.
“We didn’t just speak about what happened, but what I’ve done with my life and what she’s done with hers.
“We chatted for about two hours.
“I found some things out like she’d come in the ambulance with me, which I didn’t even know.”
Sarah, from Currie, Edinburgh, said: “I’m glad we did and I believed Kitrina when she said she had managed to get closure by meeting.
“I was extremely surprised to read Kitrina’s plea after all these years last week, all I did was what anybody would or should have done at the time.”