The victim, a woman in her 20s, had been canvassing addresses in the area of a St Mary’s Road and St Benet’s Road at around 6.45pm on November 29, 2018 for the company she worked for when she was assaulted.
She had been grabbed from behind and stabbed 11 times.
Following the attack she flagged down a member of the public who, realising the knife used in the assault was still lodged in the victim’s neck, called the emergency services.
The victim was taken to hospital where she needed surgery.
A short time later 24 year-old James Thomas went to Southend Police Station and told officers he had stabbed someone.
He was arrested and during interview told officers he had been having thoughts about attacking someone for 10 years. He said in recent months those thoughts had become stronger.
He described how on the Monday before the attack he had gone into a TK Maxx store in Southend and bought a black handled kitchen knife with a four inch blade.
Thomas said he also bought a black plastic serving spoon so as not to arouse suspicion about the knife.
He told officers he had bought the knife with the intention of attacking and killing someone with it.
On the day of the attack he had left an address in Church Road, Hadleigh at around 8am to drop his partner at work and took the knife with him.
Over the course of the day he visited three pubs - The Elms and Peterboat in Leigh-on-Sea and the Hamlet Court in Westcliff.
It was while sitting in the Hamlet Court at around 5.30pm where he claimed his thoughts to kill returned.
He then drove to the Priory Park area, parking in a road alongside it, looking for someone to attack.
He told officers he saw the victim and decided it was her he was going to attack.
Thomas followed her for a short while until she came to the corner of St Benet’s Road and Edith Road where he approached her from behind, grabbed her, and repeatedly stabbed her in her body.
She fell to the ground and he continued to stab her.
The victim tried to fight him off and he then ran off back to where his car was parked before going to Southend Police Station and handing himself in.
He admitted that he was trying to murder the victim to satisfy his thoughts but told officers that he was relieved she had not died.
Officers showed Thomas a photograph of the knife used in the attack and he confirmed it was the one he had bought.
He was also shown a CCTV still and he confirmed it showed the woman he had attacked.
Thomas, of Kingsway, Westcliff, was charged with attempted murder and possession of a bladed article and, appearing via video link, at Basildon Crown Court on Friday, January 4 pleaded guilty.
At the same court today (February 15) he was sentenced to 16 years in prison and a further five on licence.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Layla Barker, from Southend CID, said:
“This was a cold, premeditated, and totally unprovoked attack which could have easily led to an innocent woman losing her life.
“It was sheer misfortune for the victim that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Through absolutely no fault of her own, her life was turned upside-down from that traumatic moment. She should have been safe going about her business that day without interruption.
“Fortunately, attacks like this are incredibly rare and I have no doubt that Essex is a safer place now that Thomas is in prison.
“I want to thank the couple who helped the victim immediately afterwards and took her into their home. Their support, calmness and professionalism in dealing with such a disturbing situation was greatly appreciated by all involved. I know that this incident has had a lasting impact.
“I also want to praise the incredible courage of the victim throughout this ordeal. I hope the sentence given today will enable her to begin the process of rebuilding her life.
“The effect on Alexandra’s life has been significant. She will take a long time to recover both physically and psychologically. From the outset she has shown incredible strength of character. Her positive attitude and zest for life will no doubt continue to aid her recovery.
“There are no winners in this situation and the acts of that day will profoundly impact on the families of both the victim and the defendant.”