A spurned American who flew 3,200 miles to launch a savage knife attack on his British teenage girlfriend in a jealous rage after she ended their online relationship has been jailed for life.
Crazed Shane Coffey tried to murder Farha Dowlut after breaking into her Surrey home to get revenge because she decided her Muslim family would not approve of their internet romance.
The obsessive computer hacker had previously used an online Trojan horse programme disguised as a game to access two laptops belonging to Miss Dowlut and monitor her private online chats with other men.
Coffey stared blankly ahead from the dock at Guildford crown court as Judge Christopher Critchlow jailed him for life with a minimum term of eight-and-a-half years.
Judge Critchlow said: “You are said to be someone who may remain a danger to any woman that you believe may have wronged you. There is no reliable estimate of the length of time you will remain a danger.”
Coffey, 20, plotted to kill Miss Dowlut, who he had never met in person, for several months, booking a return flight from Boston, Massachusetts, to the UK, arranging a hotel and packing a murder kit including large combat knife, cable ties, tape and gloves.
Coffey even researched how to use the heavy knife in hand-to-hand combat online and conditions in UK prisons ahead of his violent assault on the 18-year-old student.
He used a brick to smash Miss Dowlut’s first floor bedroom window as she slept at her family home in Epsom, Surrey, at 4.30am on April 18 this year having landed at Heathrow the previous day.
She screamed as Coffey, then 19, flung himself through the window and climbed on top of her as she lay in bed, repeatedly stabbing her arms and chest with the knife.
Terrified Miss Dowlut, 18, was only saved from being stabbed to death when her older brother Mohammad was woken up by the screams and rushed to her room at the semi-detached family home in Epsom.
The older sibling, who had no clothes on at the time, bravely fought with Coffey as the American car mechanic determinedly slashed out with the knife multiple times.
Mr Dowlut, 23, suffered severe knife wounds to his hands and legs which have caused permanent damage to his fingers and mean he struggles with tasks such as using a computer.
The struggle ended when Mr Dowlut grabbed a metal pipe he kept in the house or protection and beat Coffey until he finally begged: “Stop, enough, I’m done.”
Police arrived soon after and arrested Coffey. In addition to his weapon, cops also found instructions on how to access Miss Dowlut’s laptop.
The prosecution says he planned to erase all traces of his communication with her to cover his tracks after the murder.
Miss Dowlut began chatting to Coffey when she was just 13 after they met through the online fantasy gaming site RuneScape.
They continued communicating through Skype and games on XBox, however fell out when computer whizz Coffey hacked into her Dell laptop by convincing her to download a game online that gave him access.
They began communicating again in November 2013 when Coffey apologised for the hack, however he went on to hack her new Apple laptop.
Their relationship turned flirtatious as they chatted via Skype and went on to exchange Christmas gifts, with Coffey sending her a new XBox and games.
Prosecutor Gino Connor said: “They communicated as friends although it might have been considered a bit flirty in her words (Miss Dowlut’s). Harmless, playful fun is what she described.”
Their fling ended a few weeks later and following a row Miss Dowlut in February this year asked Coffey to never contact her again.
He flew into a rage and began plotting his attack after she blocked him on messaging service WhatsApp.
Mr Connor said: “She realised there were family expectations and she realised she was expected to marry a Muslim and Mr Coffey was not a Muslim.”
Describing the brutal attack on the Dowlut siblings, Mr Connor explained both had been left traumatised and scarred for life by Coffey.
Defending Coffey, Richard McConaghy, accepted an attempt by the would-be killer to claim “voices” had told him to kill Miss Dowlut was not true.
He said: “It was the jealous rage he found himself in.”
The court heard Coffey took drugs including LSD, ecstasy and cannabis from age 14.
Coffey previously pleaded guilty to attempted murder of Miss Dowlut and wounding with intent of Mr Dowlut.
After jailing Coffey for eight years and six months minimum for attempted murder and five years for wounding with intent, Judge Critchlow called for Surrey Police to present Mr Dowlut with an award for bravery in saving his sister’s life.
Senior investigating officer Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Antony Archibald said: “This was an extremely frightening incident for the family, carried out by a troubled man who carefully planned the attack with disturbing precision.”
He added: “While this kind of incident could not have been anticipated and is extremely rare, it is a clear reminder of the dangers that the internet may pose.”
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