Pietermaritzburg - High court judges of appeal on Thursday confirmed a 15-year jail sentence imposed on a man who tried to sever the neck of a five-year-old boy to “punish” his girlfriend.Acting Judge Avril Potgieter, sitting with Acting Judge Rob Mossop, said the case was one of the most horrific he had come across in his career.The boy survived the attack but is permanently disabled and is fitted with a tracheostomy (a tube in his throat) to enable him to breathe.“He must have suffered unmitigated terror,” said Acting Judge Potgieter.The perpetrator, Thamsanqa Mtshali (22) from the Mtubatuba area, had pleaded guilty in the regional court to a charge that he attempted to murder the boy, who was his former girlfriend’s son, on November 23, 2013.According to his statement before the trial court, he quarrelled with his girlfriend the day before the incident because he heard she was having an affair.The quarrel continued the next day and when she and her son were going to leave, he “grabbed” the boy in anger and took him to the bush.“I decided to kill him. I took the knife I was carrying and I tried to sever his neck and while I was doing that I knew that what I was doing was wrong and I decided to stop. I became afraid and ran away leaving the victim in the bushes,” he said.Mtshali said after a while he wanted to return to the scene to take the boy to a clinic but his sister phoned to say the community had found the child and was looking for him.He handed himself over to the police.According to court records, the boy was flown to Ngwelezana Hospital. Dr Rosanna Crossly, who examined him, testified that she remembered the case because it was one of the most traumatic she had seen. The boy sustained three lacerations to his neck, all of which were “dangerous injuries” and could have been fatal.The carotid artery was not severed so blood oozed from the neck but was not pumping out. The food pipe and the wind pipe were both damaged and if the boy took a sip of water it came out of his neck. A tracheostomy had to be inserted so that he could breathe.The court heard that this could be permanent.The boy’s mother testified she was scared to send her son to school because the tracheostomy needs regular cleaning as it can become blocked.The appeal court judges dismissed Mtshali’s application for a reduction in his sentence. Potgieter said they agreed with the trial magistrate who had said that if he had the jurisdiction to do so he would have imposed an even heavier sentence on Mtshali.