Man found guilty of attempted murder of American woman whose throat was ‘slit’ in Northampton woods

David Russell
David Russell

A 25-year-old Northampton man has been found guilty of the attempted murder of an American teenager, five years after he took her to Harlestone Firs and “slit her throat.”

David Russell, Googled phrases such as “how to kill someone and get away with it”, “best knife to kill” and “how to knock someone unconscious” the night before a 19-year-old from California came to visit on April 1, 2011.

Harlestone Firs

Harlestone Firs

The court heard Russell had built up a relationship with the American online via social media websites including Facebook and MySpace.

In October 2011, Russell pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted murder and was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in jail.

However, this conviction was later quashed at the Court of Appeal and a retrial was held at Northampton Crown Court earlier this month.

Following the week-long trial, a jury returned a guilty verdict in the case. Russell will be sentenced in November.

The jury had been told by Christopher Donnellan QC, prosecuting, that Russell, who worked in McDonald’s in Sixfields, began communicating with the victim in September 2009 because they both shared an interest in heavy metal music.

Russell called himself Ollie Sykes, the name of the frontman of the Sheffield-based band Bring Me The Horizon, and the American went by the alias Ruby Townsend, Ollie’s girlfriend at the time.

Mr Donnellan said analysis of Russell’s computer revealed that at 11.30pm the day before she was due to arrive in the UK, he used a series of Google search terms related to killing someone.

The jury was told he searched for ‘hand-to-hand contact’, ‘ways to kill someone with your bare hands’, ‘how to kill someone and get away with it’, ‘best knife to kill someone’ and ‘how to knock someone unconscious’.

On the day she landed in the UK, Russell met the woman at Northampton Railway Station at about 1.30pm and they got a taxi to a wooded area off Harlestone Road. After being dropped off by the taxi, the pair walked into the woods and Russell then told the woman to sit down.

The court heard he then blindfolded her and said he was going to give her a “surprise or a present’. Russell told the woman to put her head back and put her palms upward. She then felt her neck “being sliced”,

Mr Donnellan said the woman then pulled away from Russell and attempted to get away from him before he stabbed her in the shoulder.

Russel then pinned her down and squeezed her neck and said “Why won’t you die?” and “You’ve ruined my life forever”.

Mr Donnellan said Russell left the scene after the American said she had given his name to immigration services at the airport and told him she would not tell anyone what had happened.

The jury were told the victim managed to run to a nearby house and emergency services were called to the scene. A knife with a bent tip was later recovered from the woods.

Russell was arrested after armed police were sent to his house. He was later taken to hospital and treated for a suspected overdose.

In police interview, Russell said the woman had been blackmailing him and denied any intention to kill her. Mr Donnellan said he told officers he just wanted to scare her by “scratching” her neck.