Former Northampton McDonald’s worker handed 14 year sentence for ‘slitting’ throat of woman in Harlestone Firs

David Russell was convicted of attempted murder following a re-trial in September.

David Russell was convicted of attempted murder following a re-trial in September.

A former McDonald’s worker who slit the throat of a girl he met online after luring her into a woods in Northampton with a blindfold has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

David Russell first met the American teen on social media in 2009 and gradually formed a relationship with her over the next three years.

But on April 1, 2011, having learned Russell may have been seeing another woman in the UK, the American teen came to visit him in Northampton, vowing to tell Russell’s family about the online relationship the two had been having if he did not agree to meet her.

But a trial in September heard how Russell had Googled terms like “how to kill someone and get away with it”, “best knife to kill” and “how to knock someone unconscious”, the night before her arrival.

He met the 19-year-old American at Northampton station on April 1, 2011, and the two then got a taxi to a wooded area off Harlestone Road under the pretence it was where his grandmother used to take him.

After being dropped off by the taxi, the pair walked into Harlestone Firs and Russell then told the woman to sit down.

After blindfolding her, he approached her from behind and slit her throat with a kitchen knife had stowed in a backpack, prosecutor Christopher Donnellan QC told the jury in September. When she ran off he followed her and stabbed her again, twice, before pinning her to the ground. She only escaped when she told Russell she had mentioned his name to border control officials on entering the UK.

When he fled in panic, she stumbled to a nearby house, the occupants of which called for paramedics.

Though Russell had his original 2011 conviction for attempted murder quashed in 2015, he was convicted at the re-trial in September, having already served around five years in custody.

At Northampton Crown Court today Judge Rupert Mayo gave 25-year-old Russell a 14-year prison term, half of which he will serve in custody and half on licence. An administrative hearing will determine how long Russell has already served in prison.

“At some point she heard him say ‘why won’t you die’,” Judge Mayo said describing the stabbing in the woods. “But at some point she said she had given his name to customs. She promised him she would not blame him for her injuries.”

In mitigation for Russell, John Lloyd-Jones said the defendant was on the autistic spectrum, which he said went some way to explaining his actions in April, 2011.

Attempted murder can carry a full life term, but Mr Lloyd-Jones argued Russel’s offence was “clumsy” and lacked “sophistication” to such an extent it could not count in the highest category.

Mr Lloyd-Jones said there was no evidence of “psychological harm” in the victim.

Instead the barrister said that in fact it was Russell, who had been diagnosed with suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“The reality is David Russell didn’t kill; (the victim) he didn’t inflict upon her a single life threatening injury,” he said.

“She lived not because of the intervention of a good Samaritan; not because of the prompt action of a paramedic.

“She lived because he stopped the attack on her.”

Mr Lloyd-Jones also said Russell, who previously worked at the Sixfields McDonald’s, had used his time in prison to learn to better cope with his Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

He said: “He is a very different person that stands before you now at 25 then he was at the age of 19.

“While in prison he has fully engaged in courses, he has spoken to experts.

“He has a greater insight into his condition. He is more mature, more aware, more alert.”

The time he has already served will likely be decided at a further hearing administrative hearing, said Judge Mayo.

A separate conviction for kidnap, of which Russell is currently serving a life term, is now likely to be quashed by the Court of Appeal, the judge added.

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