A cosplay enthusiast who lured a teenage girl into a park toilet and stabbed her in the neck has been jailed for more than nine years.
Connor Deegan, 21, who regularly dressed as the Marvel character The Punisher at comic book events, was found nearby wearing blood-soaked clothing with the victim’s DNA on a large hunting knife.
Deegan had lured the 18-year-old victim to the toilets at Little Ilford Park, Newham in February 2020, pretending he was taking her to Ilford railway station.
Whilst in the park Deegan asked her to come into the toilets with him as he had a surprise for her. She went with him, as he asked, but once inside she was stabbed a number of times in her neck and stomach.
The girl played dead on the toilet floor until Deegan left.
Then, seriously injured, she managed to make her way to a nearby house where a family, who were watching TV when they heard her hammering on the door, let her in to keep her safe.
The mother held tea towels to her wounds whilst another called emergency services.
One of the family told the Standard: “She told us she lay down on the floor and played dead until he left.
“The knife wound was centimetres from the main artery in her neck. The paramedics said if it wasn’t for us, she would be dead.”
Deegan was found and arrested within six hours of the attack taking place.
When found he was still wearing blood-soaked clothing and was in possession of a bag that contained the items he had prepared to use in the attack - a large combat knife, a balaclava, black gloves and a pocket knife.
The blood found on the combat knife and on Deegan’s clothing was tested for DNA and was found to be that of the victim.
During the course of their investigation, detectives found images of the suspect dressed as The Punisher and text messages where he talked of creating his own weaponry including self-made body armour.
He also took part in cosplay and attended local events in the guise of the character.
The evidence against Deegan was overwhelming and was further supported by his mobile phone being at the scene of the offence when the attack took place. He was charged within 24 hours.
Deegan appeared at London Crown court on Monday where, having previously pleaded guilty to attempted murder, theft and possession of an offensive weapon, he was sentenced to nine years and four months imprisonment.
Detective James Cronin said: “Deegan committed a cold, calculated and savage attack on a victim who is very lucky to have survived.
“Had it not been for the help she received from the community immediately following the attack, and the assistance provided by first responders and medical specialists, the outcome could have been even more severe.
“For the victim, the resulting scars from this incident will not only be physical, and they will last far beyond the healing of wounds.”
In an impact statement presented to the court, the victim said that the attack had a dramatic effect on her life.
She described having regular panic attacks and crying uncontrollably for hours and having been left with lifelong physical scars.