St Albans knife attacker is jailed

A KNIFEMAN who repeatedly stabbed a woman walking through St Albans late at night has been given an indeterminate jail sentence for the protection of the public.

Shane Simmonds, 18, who was living at Artisan Crescent, St Albans, at the time of the attack last October, was cleared of attempted murder earlier this year.

But he had earlier admitted a lesser charge of grievous bodily harm and was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence at St Albans Crown Court this week.

Simmonds repeatedly attacked a 44-year-old woman with a knife as she was walking along Alma Cut at just after 11pm on October 4. He was described at an earlier hearing as waving his arms around like an orang-utan as he stabbed his 44-year-old victim in the unprovoked attack.

Local residents responded to her calls for help and gave first aid at the scene before paramedics arrived but she had received serious stab injuries to her face, arms and legs.

Detectives from the St Albans Local Crime Unit, who were investigating the crime with support from the victim, initially pursued the attempted murder charge but in April he was found not guilty.

Det Con Neil Sutton said: “This has been an extremely traumatic time for the victim who had never come into contact with Simmonds until that evening.

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“She has shown true bravery throughout the investigation and I admire the determination she has shown since October.

“This was a brutal and shocking assault and although Simmonds claimed it was a case of mistaken identity we will never truly know what was going through his mind when he attacked her that evening.

“Although Simmonds was found not guilty for attempted murder, it is clear that the judge recognised the seriousness of this incident and has given a suitable sentence.”

Det Insp Simon Warwick went on: “For the residents of Alma Cut and St Albans as a whole, this was a deeply shocking incident because it is one that is virtually unheard of. We have had great support from the community and I thank them for assisting with our investigation.”

The victim herself added: “As a victim who was attacked so randomly by a murderous assailant and someone who was completely innocent, this has destroyed my life. Shane Simmonds is going to have a long prison sentence but so am I. The pain and trauma isn’t over for me and won’t be for a number of years.”

She thanked police, the Crown Prosecution Service and Crown Advocate Peter Shaw together with the residents of Alma Cut who, “showed such courage and kindness in coming to my assistance on the evening.”