A Northampton man who was found guilty of the attempted murder with intent of a 19-year-old teenager, who flew in from the US to meet him, has been jailed for 14 years.
David Russell, aged 25, formerly of Emilion Close, Duston, Northampton, appeared at Northampton Crown Court for sentencing today, having been found guilty following a trail in September, he will serve seven years in prison and seven on licence.
Evidence heard by the jury revealed that Russell had an online search history of phrases like ‘how to kill someone and get away with it’, best knife to kill’ and ‘how to knock someone unconscious’. He had researched them as his teenage victim was flying into the country from California to visit him.
A deleted list was recovered on his iPhone with the words binbag, knife, gloves, money and blindfold.
Russell, who worked at McDonalds, Sixfields at the time, had formed a relationship with the victim via social media in September 2009. He called himself Oliver Sykes, band member of British rock band, Bring Me The Horizon. The victim went by the pseudonym Ruby Townsend, Oliver’s girlfriend at the time.
The court heard how they began communicating everyday, but eventually the victim discovered that Russell had a girlfriend and was leading a double life. She sent a message to Russell’s girlfriend through Facebook telling her that they had been speaking to each other.
On 1 April, 2011 the victim flew into the UK. She landed at Heathrow and made her way to Northampton. Russell met her at Northampton train station and they got a taxi to Harlestone woods.
Russell told the victim that his grandfather had taken him to these woods and asked her to sit down.
He then blindfolded her and asked her to put her head back and arms out because he had a gift for her.
Speaking in court, the victim said she then felt her throat being slit. She became aware of bleeding and stood up. He was behind her and stabbed her in the right shoulder twice.
The jury heard how police later recovered the knife, bent from the impact, in the woods.
The victim revealed how, after she fell, he sat on her, tried to strangle her, head-butted her and hit her to the head with a log. She said: “I remember him saying, ‘why won’t you die?”.
Russell only left the scene after the teenager said she had given his name to customs at the airport and told him she would not tell anyone what had happened.
The victim retraced her steps out of the woods and sought help from a nearby house.
Russell was later arrested at his home by armed police. He claimed she had been blackmailing him and that he had intended to just scare her by scratching her neck and did not want to kill her.
Russell was arrested and charged in April 2011, he was later given a life sentence when he admitted kidnap and attempted murder. The conviction for attempted murder was later overturned when he appealed it on the grounds of the legal advice he received at the time.
In September 2016, following a trial, the jury took less than two hours of deliberations to find Russell guilty of attempted murder.
Defence barrister, John Lloyd-Jones, in mitigation, said: “David Russell didn’t kill (the victim). He didn’t inflict on her a single life changing injury. She didn’t live because of an intervention…she lived because he stopped what he was doing and let her walk away.
“David Russell is not by his nature a violent person. He is of good character from a good family. He deeply regrets what he has done.”
Nick Gray, from Northamptonshire Police, who led the initial investigation, said: “This is a truly horrifying case of an online romance that took a dark and sinister turn of events.
“The victim travelled from America to the UK in what she believed would be an enjoyable experience. Russell instead planned and executed a horrifying plot in which he tried to kill her.
“Thanks to her quick thinking, and reference to his details being given to immigration, it gave her the opportunity to escape and that is what undoubtedly saved her life. Russell, who refused to give his account in court, has made the victim relive this terrible experience again during trial, five years on from when it happened. Hopefully, now she can move on with her life.
“This crime should serve as a reminder to people who engage in online dating or relationships. While the majority of these tend to be safe, people should always be cautious and if they are going to meet up with someone, make sure they let people know where they are going and who they are meeting. Always meet in a public place and keep in contact with friends and relatives whether in the country or abroad.”