A teenager who absconded from a residential school before launching a vicious murder bid on a pensioner in her home was ordered to be detained for four years.
The youth robbed his 85-year-old victim Averil Hendry of £80 before repeatedly stabbing her with a knife from her own kitchen.
A judge at the High Court in Edinburgh told the teenager, who cannot be identified for legal reasons: “This was a terrible crime. It was a vicious, brutal and cowardly attack on a defenceless elderly woman.”
Lord Richardson said that listening to the description of the wounds inflicted on the victim at an earlier court hearing was “excruciating”.
The judge said the teenager, who was 15 at the time, had carried out the attack even after she had offered him all the money she had and opened a door at her home so that the intruder could leave.
Lord Richardson said: “She will bear the scars, both physical and psychological, for the rest of her life. You have forever shattered the sense of security she had in her home.”
The judge said that reports prepared on the teenager, who has previous convictions for knife possession and battery, had concluded that at present he posed a high likelihood of reoffending.
He said he took into account the teenager’s difficult upbringing, mental health problems and that he appeared to be genuinely remorseful.
Sentencing guidelines required that he take into the best interests of the young offender and prospects for rehabilitation.
But the judge told the youth that because of the “extreme gravity” of the crime he considered that a custodial sentence was the only appropriate disposal.
He told the teenager that he would have been sentenced to six years detention if convicted after trial but that would be reduced in light of his guilty plea.
He also ordered that the teenager should be monitored for a further three years and warned that if he breached licence conditions during that period he could be returned to custody.
The teenager, now 16, earlier admitted entering his victim’s cottage home at Mountbay, Montrose, in Angus on September 15 last year uninvited and repeatedly striking her with a knife to her severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of her life and attempting to murder her and robbing her of £80.
Advocate depute Gavin Anderson said: “The complainer has previously stated that she was traumatised by the events and would never feel safe within her home address.”
The prosecutor said the teenager was made the subject of a care order in 2012 in Birmingham and had become a resident at the school in Scotland in late 2020.
He said: “The accused was not subject to fully secure conditions, although was supervised when within school premises and in the grounds.”
Before the murder bid the teenager told a school staff member that he was going to get a train to go back to Birmingham and broke free and ran off despite an attempt to take hold of him. Police were contacted.
The victim went into her kitchen to make a cup of tea before going to bed to be confronted by the youth, wearing a face covering.
Mr Anderson said: “The complainer had not heard the accused enter the cottage. The complainer told the accused to leave.”
She noticed he was holding a knife and reached for her wallet lying nearby and took four £20 notes from it and told him if it was money he was after he should take it and leave. The intruder took the cash but continued to brandish the knife at his victim.
She unlocked the back door and told him to put the knife down and told him: “You might stab somebody with it.”
Mr Anderson told the court: “It is the accused’s position that at that point the complainer waved her walking stick at him; the complainer denies having done so and denies that she even had her walking stick with her at that point.”
The teenager then said, “Like this, like this,” as he began stabbing her with the knife. The pensioner continued to tell him to leave her alone and pleaded: “Please go away.”
When she realised she had been stabbed she began screaming and the intruder threw the knife down and fled.
The victim called 999 for an ambulance and attempted to contact her daughters and neighbours as she waited for the emergency services.
Police found a bloodstained knife lying on the vestibule floor at the cottage which would later yield DNA from the teenager on the handle. Other knives were seen lying or a worktop and a sledgehammer which the teenager brought to the premises was in the kitchen.
The victim was taken to hospital where wounds to her chest and stomach were treated and she was discharged on September 22 last year.
The youth was detained in the early hours of September 16 after he was spotted walking on the A92 road heading for Montrose.
Defence counsel Mark Stewart QC said the teenager has been receiving additional help to help him with ADHD.
He said: “He cannot understand why he did what he did. He is shocked by it.”