Teenagers praised after man jailed for trying to murder his neighbour

19/01/2016

A man has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for attempting to murder a neighbour that he claimed to be in love with and for threatening a teenager with a knife.

Warren Flaherty, 49, of Greenway Road in Widnes was jailed at Chester Crown Court after pleading guilty to stabbing Alison Sheridan on the evening of 8 November 2014.

The court heard that two 16 year old boys may well have saved Ms Sheridan's life when they intervened in the attack near Lower Appleton Road in Widnes.

One of them was a passenger in a car that was driving past when the assault took place.

He got out of the car and kicked out at Flaherty as he was plunging an 8" knife into Ms Sheridan. Flaherty got up and walked towards the boy, holding the knife.

The boy backed off, fearing for his safety, but his intervention gave the victim the chance to get away to a nearby shop.

Flaherty started to walk away but the boy followed him and started shouting after him. He spotted another 16 year old boy on the other side of the street and shouted to him, asking him to call the police.

Both boys continued to follow Flaherty and gave details to the police over the phone. Flaherty turned and lunged at the boys with the knife but the police then arrived and arrested him. 

The Judge, HHJ Dutton, described the boys actions as "extraordinary bravery" that had no doubt stopped a murder and saved Ms Sheridan's life.

He spoke of his "great admiration" for the boys and asked for his comments to be transcribed and given to them.

He sentenced Flaherty to 18 years in jail for attempted murder and 2 years for threatening with an offensive weapon.

The court heard that Flaherty had developed a fascination for Ms Sheridan, 41. He'd convinced himself he was having a relationship with her.

Ms Sheridan suffered life changing injuries in the attack and is still having treatment.

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 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."