Grave danger to women – man given life for attempted murder

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A 25-year-old man has been handed a life sentence with a minimum of 18 years for the attempted murder of a woman in Northampton in 2020, at which point a parole board will consider if he is safe to be released.

At about 9pm on June 8, 2020, a 22-year-old woman was shopping for food in Wellingborough Road.

But as she made her way into Sainsbury’s and then Tesco Express, unbeknownst to her, a man had got off a bus and was following her.

It was Sean Shortland.

She left Tesco and proceeded to walk up Artizan Road and it was at this point that she felt his presence.

But before she could do anything, Shortland grabbed her from behind, covered her mouth and pulled her to the ground.

He then got on top of her, put his hands around her throat and proceeded to strangle her. Despite offering her phone and money to him, Shortland continued to try and kill her.

“I can still feel your hands around my neck,” the victim said, in her personal statement which was read out at sentencing. “It never escapes me.”

Thankfully, members of the public came to her aid and he ran off.

An investigation into the incident was quickly launched, led by DC Howes from Northampton CID, and after a number of enquiries, Shortland was arrested and charged.

The attack was later proven to be completely random with neither Shortland nor the woman having met before.

At Northampton Crown Court earlier this year, he was rightly found guilty and was today given a life sentence with a minimum term of 18 years. Due to his time on remand, the minimum he will serve from now will be 16 years and 152 days.

DC Howes, said: “The danger Sean Shortland poses to women is enormous and so I am incredibly pleased that we have managed to get him a life sentence.

“From the very beginning, this case has meant so much to me and to get the right result and a long prison sentence handed down is a huge personal achievement.

“However, managing to get such a dangerous and depraved individual off the streets would not have been possible without the incredibly brave woman in this case. She has shown courage beyond measure – taking to the stand at court, facing Sean Shortland, and supporting our investigation throughout.

“Having got to know her well over the past 18 months, I can say that she is a strong woman, stronger than she knows, and I am hugely proud of her.

“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 go to prison for a very long time.”

Detective Inspector Simon Barnes, said: “I want to take this opportunity to commend DC Howes for a truly brilliant investigation. Without the tenacity, determination and care she has shown throughout this case, we would not have been able to achieve a conviction for attempted murder and put this man behind bars for such a long time.

“It has been clear to see over the past 18 months just how important this case has been to her. 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. I am proud to know and work with her.

“This was a real team effort from the beginning. But for the actions and quick thinking of PC Vjestica taking forensic samples from the victim and PC 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 also incredibly proud of.

“Finally I would like to thank the victim in this case. Sean Shortland undoubtedly continues to pose a grave danger to women and I truly believe that by coming forward and supporting our investigation, she has saved other women from suffering at his hands.”

Describing how the incident has affected her, the victim continued: “There is no excuse for what you have done.

“You have impacted how I will make decisions for the rest of my life.

“I am a shadow of my former self.

“But I am getting stronger.”

At the end of the case, His Honour Judge Mayo thanked DC Howes and commended her to the Chief Constable for her work on the investigation and support of the victim.