She met him on Facebook, and was impressed enough to cross the Atlantic to meet him. But Maricar Benedicto’s naive trust was repaid in the most horrific way.
The man who lured her to the UK, David Russell, took her to a forest and persuaded the 19-year-old to wear a blindfold, saying he had a gift for her.
Russell then stood behind her and slit her throat. The terrified teenager tried to escape but the 20-year-old McDonald’s worker stabbed her several times, hit her in the face with a log and headbutted her. Miraculously, she survived.
At Northampton Crown Court, Russell admitted kidnap and attempted murder and was jailed for life. The court was told he had posed as tattooed rocker Oliver Sykes, lead singer in the Sheffield-based metal band Bring Me The Horizon, currently touring the Americas.
Prosecuting, Christopher Donnellan QC said that the day before Miss Benedicto arrived from California last April, Russell had searched the internet for ‘how to kill someone with bare hands’, ‘how to cut skin with a knife’ and ‘the best knife to kill’.
After meeting Miss Benedicto at the town’s railway station, Russell took her to a nearby forest, claiming it held special childhood memories.
Mr Donnellan said: ‘He asked her to sit down on a fallen tree trunk and said he was going to blindfold her. He said she would get a surprise or a present. He stood behind her, blindfolded her, asked her to put her head back, and her arms up. She did so with her palms up, entirely trusting him.
‘Although she did not see any implement because of the blindfold, the next thing she felt was her neck being sliced.’ The court heard that as Russell did it, he shouted: ‘Why won’t you die? You’ve ruined my life. It’s all your fault.’
The court was told she jumped up and the blindfold fell off. She began to run away ‘but he caught up and stabbed her in the back’. A serrated breadknife was found at the scene.
He stopped the attack only when Miss Benedicto told him she had given his name and address to immigration on arrival in the UK. He ran home, where he took a suspected overdose, while she staggered to a nearby house for help.
The pair had met on Facebook last year and ‘engaged in conversations using pseudonyms’. She went by the alias Ruby Townsend. They chatted online using Skype and Miss Benedicto knew Russell was not who he initially claimed to be before she flew to Britain.
Steven Crouch, defending, said Russell was ‘borderline autistic’ but had never offended before. ‘He is a troubled young man, very young, who committed an act in bizarre circumstances, never to be repeated.’
Jailing him on Tuesday, Judge Charles Wide QC said Russell was ‘exceptionally dangerous’ and must serve at least 17-and-a-half years in jail before being considered for release.
He added: ‘The features of this case are truly horrifying. When she was able to escape, you intended to kill her and must have come very close.’