A man has been sentenced for attempting to murder his neighbour.
Warren Flaherty, of Greenway Road, Widnes, was jailed for a total of 20 years at Chester Crown Court on Friday 15th January.
The 50-year-old had pleaded guilty to attempted murder and threatening with an offensive weapon in a public place at a previous hearing.
The victim - Alison Sheridan, aged 42 - sustained serious and life changing injuries as a result of the vicious attack.
She was stabbed at least 8 times by Flaherty during the evening of Saturday 8th November 2014. Cheshire Police received a number of calls from members of the public reporting that a woman was seriously injured on Lower Appleton Road in Widnes.
Flaherty – who lived next door to the victim with his wife – carried out his vicious attack in the street around 5.30pm. Two teenagers, who were not known to the victim, had come to her aid during the incident.
One boy – who was aged 16 at the time – was a passenger in a car that was driving past. He spotted a woman running away from a man. The teen was concerned for the safety of the woman so when they got closer he got out of the car to try to help.
At this point the man had caught up with the woman and pulled her causing her to fall to the floor. She was shouting and trying to fend him off – but the man was restraining her on the floor.
The boy witnessed the man repeatedly lunge at the woman with an 8 inch kitchen knife – causing injuries to her arm, chest and stomach. In a bid to stop the attack the boy kicked out at the man who got up off the floor and walked towards him.
The man picked up the knife and the boy backed away fearing for his own safety. By this time the woman had managed to get away to a nearby shop for safety.
Then the man calmly started to walk up Lower Appleton Road toward the social club - the boy followed him and started shouting after him.
The boy then spotted another teenager, also aged 16 at the time, walking on the opposite side of the road - he told him what had happened and asked him to call the police. Both boys continued to follow the man as they provided details of the incident – and his location – to police over the phone.
During this time the man turned and lunged at the boys with the knife – one of them dropped his phone and went to pick it up but the man suddenly turned and ran at him holding out the knife.
Patrols arrived swiftly at the scene and the man was told to drop the knife and get down on the floor. He was then arrested by the officers and taken to custody where he was subsequently charged with the offences.
The victim was treated by paramedics at the scene and taken to Aintree Hospital where she was treated for her injuries. She remained in hospital for a number of weeks before being discharged.
DC Heather Phillips said: “This was a vicious attack on a woman as she walked home from her local shop. Flaherty had developed a fascination with Alison and believed he was in a relationship with her. When she started seeing someone he could not handle this and it was clear that he did not want anyone else to have her.
“In a bid to ensure this never happened he armed himself with a weapon, waited until she left her house and followed her before carrying out his attack. Alison sustained horrific injuries as a result of the stabbing – she remained in hospital for some time and is continuing to receive treatment. What happened that day is truly shocking and I hope that the guilty verdict and successful outcome at court today helps to bring about a degree of closure for her.
“Fortunately for the victim two brave teenage boys stepped in and tried to help her. Their actions that day are truly remarkable. Not only did they try and stop the attack – but they alerted police and helped to guide officers to where Flaherty was heading so he could be swiftly arrested. They did all of this without any concern for their own safety and I know that the victim is truly very grateful for what they did that day. She has also expressed her gratitude towards the paramedics and doctors at Aintree Hospital who treated her and to all the police officers who have worked on the case.
“Flaherty is clearly a dangerous man and the sentence handed down today reflects that. I hope that his time behind bars will allow him to reflect upon his actions that day – and how they have affected all those involved.”
Brian Forshaw, Senior Crown Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This was an horrific attack on a next door neighbour, sparked by jealousy and rage. Flaherty believed he was in love with the woman. He knew he couldn’t have her and didn’t want anyone else to.
“If it hadn’t have been for the actions of these two teenage boys, this attack could have had even more serious consequences. They knew they were putting their own lives in danger but were determined to come to Ms Sheridan’s aid and probably saved her life. Young people are often seen as the perpetrators of crime yet the actions of these two teenagers were nothing short of heroic.”
The two boys involved in the incident are to be awarded a commendation from the Judge for their actions that day.
Flaherty was sentenced to 18 years for attempted murder and two years for threatening with an offensive weapon in a public place – to run consecutively.