'Dangerous and depraved' man found guilty of attempted murder after randomly strangling woman in Northampton

Victim praised for her bravery: 'I hope she also feels proud of herself for the courage she has shown'

By Jack Duggan
Monday, 20th September 2021, 11:34 am

A 'dangerous and depraved' man has been found guilty of attempted murder after randomly strangling a woman in Northampton as she walked home.

Sean Shortland followed the victim, aged 22, after she left a supermarket and grabbed her from behind before strangling her in June last year.

Fortunately, members of the public came to her aid and the attacker, aged 25, of Valley Road, Northampton, ran away.

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Sean Shortland. Photo: Northamptonshire Police

But he was later arrested and charged, before being convicted after a trial at Northampton Crown Court today (Friday, September 17).

Detective Constable Howes, who led the investigation, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Sean Shortland has been found guilty of attempted murder and will now be spending a long time in prison as a result.

“This case has meant so much to me and to get the right result for this woman after 18 months is a huge achievement.

"She has been so brave – taking to the stand at court, facing Sean Shortland, and supporting our investigation throughout.

"Because of her, a very dangerous and depraved man will now be spending a long time looking at the four walls of a prison cell.

“I am hugely proud of her and I hope she also feels proud of herself for the courage she has shown.

"I also hope today’s result allows her some sense of closure so she can begin to move forward with her life."

The victim was attacked by Shortland after he had followed her from the Tesco Express on Wellingborough Road, having got off a bus and waited outside, according to police.

She felt someone was following her but before she could do anything, he grabbed her from behind, covered her mouth and pulled her to the ground.

Shortland then got on top of her, put his hands around her throat and strangled her until the passersby intervened and he ran away.

The attack was later proven to be completely random with Shortland and the victim never having met before.

DC Howes said: “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the public who intervened at the time of this incident – their help has been invaluable.

“Walking alone without fear is a right every woman should have and every woman should be able to walk home safely.

"This is something I believe in passionately and I hope convictions like this send a message to offenders like Sean Shortland – you do not belong on our streets and we will do everything we can to make sure you are locked up.”

Shortland will be sentenced at the same court on November 5.

Detective Inspector Simon Barnes said the conviction is a huge achievement and commended DC Howes for her 'incredible investigation, her hard work, and the care she has shown throughout this case'.

“From sourcing counselling for this brave young woman to making sure she was cared for, updated and continuously believed in the police’s ability to get justice, DC Howes’ work has been of the highest quality," he continued.

"I am so pleased for her and for our victim who courageously faced Sean Shortland in the dock - I cannot imagine how difficult that must have been for her.

"But because she did, she is now responsible for him being unable to hurt anyone else.

“This was a real team effort from the beginning.

"But for the actions and quick thinking of PC Tom Vjestica taking forensic samples from the victim and PC Georgia Sees getting the first statement and supporting the victim on the night, this outcome would not have been possible.

"It has been a long and meticulous investigation further supported by the case builder Kate Williams and police staff investigator Alex Ingram, whom I am incredibly proud of.”