A man who believed he had a comic-book alter-ego has been jailed for attacking a woman in Manor Park.
Connor Deegan, 21 [4.4.99] of no fixed address, appeared at Inner London Crown Court on Monday, 17 May 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.
At around 17:30hrs on the evening of Monday, 17 February 2020, Deegan had lured the 18-year-old female victim to the toilets at Little Ilford Park, pretending that he was taking her to Ilford railway station.
Whilst in the park Deegan, who was known to the victim, asked her to come into the toilets with him as he had 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.
She was quick thinking in that she lay motionless until Deegan left the scene. Then, seriously injured, she managed to make her way to a nearby house where the residents quickly called for an ambulance and police.
The victim was treated at the scene by London Ambulance Service before being taken to The Royal London Hospital where she received lifesaving treatment to extremely serious injuries.
An investigation was launched by detectives from the North East Area Safeguarding Unit who very quickly established that Connor Deegan had told people, as he fled the scene, that he wanted to ‘give her a choke-hold’ that he believed would turn him into TV and comic book character ‘The Punisher’ and then take her to the park and kill her.
Deegan was arrested by officers at a nearby address and was in custody 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 cosplay 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.
Due to the weight of the case against him, when he appeared at Inner London Crown Court on 30 July 2020, just five days before he was due to stand trial, he pleaded guilty to a Section 20 wounding and possession of an offensive weapon. This plea was accepted by the court with the offence of theft to lie on file.
Detective James Cronin, of the North East BCU Safeguarding Unit, 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.
“I would like thank all the witnesses from the local community who came forward to assist our investigation and the many police officers and medics who have helped remove this dangerous individual from our streets.”
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.
Do you know about someone who is carrying a knife, dealing drugs or is involved in violent crime? If you have information that could help keep your community safe, but don’t want to speak to police, please contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They do not ask your name and cannot trace your call or I.P address.
Any young people who have information about violence or knife crime, can visit www.fearless.org where they can pass on information anonymously – your I.P address will not be traced. Fearless is part of the Crimestoppers charity, and is also independent of the police.
*Cosplay is a performance art where the participants dress in costumes and make-up, representing characters from anime, video games, television and film.
In addition to creating costumes, ‘cosplayers’ also act in character and are usually subject matter experts on the characters they replicate.