Michael Chilcott awaits sentence for attacking a young
woman in her Dunedin flat last November. Photo by Staff
A young mother who was stabbed and almost killed in her
home believes judo lessons she attended with her father saved
The 26-year-old nurse struggled throughout the attack by
21-year-old Michael John Chilcott, who came to the door of
her Duncan St flat asking for a drink of water just before
9am on November 19.
He hit her from behind with his coffee mug, punched her,
pushed her into her bedroom and told her to be quiet or he
would hurt her young daughter, then pulled off her pyjama
trousers and indecently assaulted her.
He pulled out a pair of scissors and stabbed her about the
face and neck then tried to choke her and smother her with a
pillow. In a five-page victim impact statement she read at
the sentencing hearing in the Dunedin District Court
yesterday, the woman spoke of the devastation the attack had
caused to her family and to her partner.
She and her father were very close. He was upset, angry and
struggling to deal with the situation. He used to take her to
judo lessons and ''we credit [that] for saving my life'', she
Chilcott was yesterday sentenced to nine years and nine
months' jail on charges of wounding, indecent assault and
aggravated burglary. Judge John Macdonald set a non-parole
period of five years.
The Crown had advocated a prison sentence starting at 12 to
12 and a-half years, with credit for the guilty plea, while
Campbell Savage, for Chilcott, suggested a sentence starting
at about 11 years.
Judge Macdonald said it appeared the motive for the attack
had been sexual, although Chilcott denied that, claiming he
went to the flat to get money for drugs. The victim's
injuries were ''truly serious'' and the emotional impact
''terrifying'', the woman's overwhelming terror being for her
''Her whole family has been devastated by what you did,'' the
judge told Chilcott.
While violence did not feature strongly in his previous
convictions, it appeared his liking for K2 had caused
problems. He was on medication for depression, was under
monitoring and assessed at high risk of reoffending.
A psychiatric report told of his first use of drugs and the
judge acknowledged the drowning of a friend in 2008 had been
a life-changing event for Chilcott and perhaps started his
There were no mitigating features to the offending, the judge
said, but eight aggravating factors - extreme violence,
premeditation, serious and potentially fatal injuries, use of
weapons, targeting the victim's head, attempting to commit
another crime, the victim's vulnerability and the home
At times during her victim impact statement, the young woman
addressed Chilcott directly. He stood in the dock, his head
Although she did not know him, she was happy to be a good
Samaritan when he came to her door asking for a glass of
water, she said.
If she had a choice, she would never think of the assault
again, but was learning it would never truly leave her.
''When I think back to what happened, I remember a feeling of
overwhelming terror - terror for me and terror for my
At the time, she believed her 3-year-old daughter would be
harmed or murdered and that was a feeling that would always
Her little girl had been exposed to ''a hideous level of
violence'' and would not come to see her for the first four
days in hospital.
''She was scared and uncertain I was the same person. I had
seen myself in the mirror. I was unrecognisable,'' she said.
She spent her first night in hospital after the attack in the
high dependency unit because of high-risk breathing issues.
The largest wound was 5cm wide and 5cm deep to the front of
her neck. There were three stab wounds to the front of her
neck, a 4cm-deep wound to her face and three behind her ear.
She was unable to drive for six weeks because of head
injuries and concussion, had countless headaches for some
time and still had frequent migraines.
She was now a patient of the concussion clinic through the
ISIS Centre. Her neck injuries had affected her shoulder and
her back, requiring ongoing physiotherapy.
She was physically and emotionally unable to return to
full-time work and had to live off her savings.
''The entire situation has been catastrophic for my life and
those around me,'' the young woman said. She still had
flashbacks about the assault, had immense difficulty sleeping
and nightmares most nights.
Every day following the assault had been ''an absolute
battle'' for her. She had difficulty with her ACC claims,
difficulty finding a counsellor, financial and emotional
stress, physical pain and relationship strain.
''I feel angry sometimes about my situation but, towards the
offender, I feel only pity.''
All she could hope for was to one day feel normal again.