Man who slashed throat of US teen he met online is caged
A man who slashed the throat of an American teenager he met online after luring her into woodland has been jailed for 14 years.
Maricar Benedicto had crossed the Atlantic from her California home to meet David Russell, now 25, but was the victim of a "persistent and continuous attack" hours after her arrival in the UK.
The then 19-year-old was blindfolded as Russell said he was going to give her a gift - only for him to stand behind her and take a knife to her throat.
He went on to punch and hit the girl - shouting "Why won't you die?" - before she managed to escape to safety after the attack in Harlestone Firs, Northamptonshire, in April 2011.
Judge Rupert Mayo said: "Russell put a blindfold on her and stood behind her. Maricar thought he was going to give her a present so held her arms out. Russell applied a kitchen knife to the front of her neck."
He said the attack left Ms Benedicto "dazed and confused" and led to her staying in hospital for 24 hours, adding it was a "cold-blooded and callous" attack on a "naive victim".
Northampton Crown Court heard that Russell, who suffers from autism spectrum disorder, had searched "killing someone" and "how to cut skin with a knife" in the early hours of the morning before the attack.
Russell admitted attempted murder in October 2011 and was told he must serve at least 10 years in jail before being considered for release.
The conviction was quashed at the Court of Appeal and a re-trial held, with Russell found guilty of the same charge at Northampton Crown Court in September.
His time spent in custody will count towards his prison term.
The court heard that Russell had taken his victim to the woodland after saying he had fond childhood memories of the area.
After attacking her with a knife, Russell continued the assault until she said she had given his name and address to immigration officers when arriving in the country.
Prosecuting, Christopher Donnellan QC said: "The fact is he drew a knife across her neck from behind," adding this was part of a "persistent and continuous attack".
John Lloyd-Jones QC, mitigating, said the attack had a "lack of sophistication, was clumsy in execution and ultimately ineffective".
He added: "The reality is David Russell did not kill Maricar Benedicto. He did not inflict upon her a single life-threatening injury. She lived not because of the intervention of a good Samaritan, she lived not because of the prompt action of paramedics.
"She lived because he stopped his attack. He deeply regrets what he did. He is a very different person as he stands before you at 25 than he was at the age of 19."
Commenting after the sentencing, former detective Nick Gray, who led the initial investigation, said: "This is a truly horrifying case of an online romance that took a dark and sinister turn.
"The victim travelled from America to the UK in what she believed would be an enjoyable experience. Russell instead planned and executed a horrifying plot in which he tried to kill her.
"Thanks to her quick thinking, and reference to his details being given to immigration, it gave her the opportunity to escape and that is what undoubtedly saved her life."