A WOMAN strangled and falsely imprisoned in her own home continues to play the incident over in her mind and says the ordeal has changed her life.
It’s been nearly six months since teenager Merlyn Van Eeken targeted Wendy Richardson, but there’s still no explanation for why he did it.
Ms Richardson was choked from behind at at her Orwell Street property in Wangaratta so hard, she was lifted off the ground and quickly lost consciousness.
He dragged her into the laundry and closed the door.
Van Eeken knew her daughter, Phoebe Retell, from school, but they weren’t close.
He told police he planned to hold Ms Retell to ransom in a bid to get cash and move to Queensland.
He was placed on a four-year corrections order with supervision and 250 hours of community work in the Wodonga Magistrates Court on Thursday.
He is banned from contacting the mother and daughter ever again, with restrictions on approaching them.
Speaking after the matter was finalised, the pair said it was positive Van Eeken would be monitored.
“It has changed our lives for the long term,” Mr Richardson said.
The 55-year-old still can’t understand why she was targeted or what sparked his bizarre and irrational plan.
She had given him a glass of water in her home and began to feel uncomfortable moments before she was attacked.
His stealth took her by surprise – she had no way of fighting back and couldn’t scream due to the pressure on her throat.
He daughter came come moments later.
“It has frightened us,” Ms Richardson said.
“I think it will take a long time to get over.
“We’re basically frightened of the dark.
“I was never a person who was frightened and that’s been taken away from us.”
The prosecution did not oppose a non-custodial sentence, and magistrate Stella Stuthridge said it had been difficult to sentence Van Eeken.
Defence lawyer Geoff Clancy reviewed similar cases of false imprisonment.
“There is nothing anything like this,” he said.
“Nothing fits this factual scenario in any way, shape or form … it’s unique.”
Ms Stuthridge told Ms Richardson and Ms Retell there would be less supervision with a jail term and thanked them for attending.
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