Murderer freed to kill again

Date published: 01 July 2014

A MURDERER told he would spend the rest of his life in prison after stabbing and killing his former girlfriend had killed before in Oldham.

Paul O’Hara had been out on life licence for 23 months before killing Cherylee Shennan in Rawtenstall. He had served 14 years behind bars for the murder of Janine Waterworth in High Crompton.

The 43 year old attacked Cherylee with a hammer, tried to strangle her and stabbed her with a kitchen knife after she tried to run to safety. During the attack he also knocked a police officer unconscious and threatened another with a knife.

Yesterday O’Hara pleaded guilty to Cherylee’s murder, wounding with intent to cause GBH to a police officer and assault with intent to resist arrest.

Speaking after the hearing, a spokesman for the Parole Board said they “deeply regretted” the circumstances that led to Cherylee’s death. Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner said “serious questions” must be asked over why O’Hara was freed to kill again.

Preston Crown Court heard O’Hara planned to kill Cherylee (40) because he was afraid she had told police how he had previously assaulted her and that his life licence would be revoked, sending him back to jail.

When two officers arrived to see him O’Hara, who had drunk a bottle of vodka that morning, burst through the back door with a hammer and started hitting Cherylee and the officers.

Det Sgt Damien McAllister was knocked unconscious and his colleague Det Con Karen Kenworthy hit O’Hara with her baton. O’Hara backed off into the kitchen and grabbed a large knife.

As the officers got the victim out of the house O’Hara chased after them and stabbed Shennan in the arm, chest and face five times.

One of the detectives made an emergency call and other officers eventually subdued him with pepper spray.

Judge Anthony Russell QC told the violent defendant: “This was a most brutal and savage attack. I am left in no doubt you intended to kill Cherylee Shennan. You are a very dangerous man, particularly to women with whom you form a relationship.”

He also sentenced O’Hara to 10 years imprisonment for the wounding of Det Sgt McAlister and 12 months for assaulting Det Con Kenworthy.

Judge Russell added: “I wish to pay tribute to the courage shown by both police officers in dealing with this terrible incident.”

O’Hara was allowed parole as the board was satisfied it was no longer necessary to keep him behind bars at HMP Kirklevington Grange in Cleveland.

The life licence meant he could be returned to prison at any time he was considered a public risk.

After the hearing, Det Supt Eddie Thistlethwaite said: “O’Hara is a horrendous, dangerous man, especially to women. He is going to be in prison for the rest of his life. I have seen lots of violence, but this is one of the most shocking - made worse by the fact he had killed another partner. He’s not mad, he’s bad.”