A GANG of teenagers left a man for dead and drenched in blood after a 'sustained' knife attack during a late-night rampage through the streets of Oxford, a court heard.

Oxford Crown Court heard yesterday how the boys, all aged between 15 and 18 at the time, had gone out 'looking for trouble' ahead of the violent attack - hurling traffic cones into the street and shouting abuse at passers-by.

Minutes before the bloodshed, prosecutors claim, the gang of four had already robbed another man - a doctor at the John Radcliffe Hospital - of his glasses, and held a blade to his chest before trying to steal his wallet.

The four Oxford teenagers all deny one count of attempted murder, an alternative count of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent, and one count of robbery.

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Two of them deny a further count of attempted robbery and the youngest - who was 15 at time, denies threatening another with a bladed article.

Only one of the accused - Ethan Broster, 18, of Windmill Road, Oxford - can be identified, and the others, boys now aged 16, 16 and 17, cannot be named because of their youth.

Outlining the case against them at the start of the trial yesterday, prosecutor Steven Perian QC told jurors how all four had cleared a bottle of brandy before taking to the streets around Headington Quarry and Wood Farm on the night of November 22 last year.

He told the panel of seven women and five men: "These four young men had consumed alcohol and went out looking for trouble.

"When they went out that night at least one of them was armed with a knife.

"They began their evening by throwing traffic road cones from the pavement to the road and went about asking for cigarettes and threatening members of the public within a relatively short time."

He said that the group spotted their first alleged victim - Benjamin Fairfax, who is a doctor at Oxford's main hospital, at Old Road at about 11pm.

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He was walking home from a night with friends having been at the Mason's Arms pub, Headington Quarry, the court heard, and the gang soon became aggressive towards him.

Jurors were told that during the ensuing confrontation Mr Fairfax was threatened with a knife and had his glasses snatched from him.

As the teenagers tried to take his wallet the alleged victim banged on the side of a passing bus which stopped and let him inside to flee the scene.

Not long after, prosecutors claim, the group saw their second alleged victim, Barry Sheldon, who had been out playing pool with friends that night at Wood Farm Road.

Mr Sheldon, the court heard, was set upon by the group and one, the 15-year old, 'lunged' at him with a knife, repeatedly stabbing him 'at least 12 times'.

The stab wounds, Mr Perian told jurors, cut through the man's liver and through his right lung, causing damage to his rib cage and severing an artery.

He was left in the street pouring blood and with life-threatening injuries and Mr Sheldon was 'very fortunate' to survive the attack after two student paramedics living nearby came to his aid before ambulance crews arrived.

Mr Perian added: "The Crown say that [the 15-year old] had one intention that night and that was to kill Mr Sheldon and the other defendants joined the attack with the same intention, or encouraged him, or assisted him."

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Shortly after the attack police spotted the 15-year old and Broster, who made claims that they had themselves been the victims of violence.

After their arrest police interviewed the four teenagers and jurors heard yesterday their various accounts of the night, through pre-prepared statements.

Broster claimed he had 'held back' when Mr Sheldon was attacked but later said he had 'felt pressured' by the other teenagers to join in the violence.

The 15-year old did not give any comment when quizzed by police, while the other two denied any involvement in the night's violence.

All four deny the charges and the trial, expected to last three weeks, continues.