Northampton strangler given life sentence for attempted murder after random attack on woman in 2020

"All I was doing was walking home. Why me? Why did you choose me?"

By Max Pearson
Sunday, 23rd January 2022, 3:20 pm

A Northampton strangler has been sentenced to a minimum of more than 16 years in prison after he randomly tried to murder a woman on her walk home in June 2020.

Sean Shortland previously of Valley Road, Little Billing, attempted to strangle the woman to death in June 2020 after following her from a Tesco Express in Wellingborough Road.

The 25-year-old was sentenced at Northampton Crown Court heard on Friday (January 21) following a trial last year where a jury found him guilty of the offence.

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Sean Shortland. Photo: Northamptonshire Police.

Shortland grabbed his victim from behind and threw her to the ground before clamping both hands around her throat until she fell unconscious, the court heard. Members of the public thankfully intervened, saving the woman's life.

Shortland's victim said in her impact statement that the random attack had 'taken my life from me' and that she relives what he did to her 'daily'.

She wrote: "All I was doing was walking home. Why me? Why did you choose me? I have spent so long wanting to be alone and to hide myself away because of you.

"I have shut myself away from the world, even from my mum, one of the most important people to me.

"Even taking doctor-prescribed medication, my nightmares make me relive the incident over and over again. I worried constantly and my mind did not feel like my own.

"I would do anything to protect anyone from going through the hell you have put me through."

Shortland has many past convictions including assault, ABH to a child and battery of a former partner. He was also subject to a restraining order by another woman at the time of this attack.

As part of sentencing, the court referred to Dr Aamir Ehjaz, the consulting psychiatrist, to assess Shortland's risk of reoffending again if he were released.

Initially he believed the risks were 'low' if Shortland was suitably medicated for his ADHD and kept off drink and drugs.

However Shortland had lied to the psychiatrist, saying that he was drunk at the time of the assault. The court had already decided this was false, leading the doctor to 'fundamentally reassess' the risks. He said he 'would not recommend his release' for so long as Shortland was being 'dishonest'.

In the sentencing remarks His Honour Judge Mayo, presiding, was scathing of a man who showed little desire to reform his past violent ways and whom he believed would pose a risk 'long into the future'.

His Honour said: "I do not conclude that the attack was committed under the influence of drink or drugs.

"I am sure you had made a deliberate and targeted plan to kill, with your reason for attacking the victim, in Dr Ehjaz's words, emerging from 'unresolved factors against women.'

"I am sure that she would have died there and then if members of the public had not taken swift action to repel you.

"In the past you have been offered a battery of support and my conclusion is you have made little or no effort to control your violent outbursts. You have frequently abused marijuana despite knowing that this causes paranoia in you. You may express remorse now but I struggle to accept that this is genuine.

"You have a prominent desire to cause pain and distress."

Shortland was sentenced to a minimum of 16 years and 152 days in prison. While he could technically be released after this period, the probation service will decide whether he is ever fit to re-enter society.