Chilling Valentine’s Day date before man stabbed girlfriend, 24, to death

A couple had just celebrated Valentine’s Day together hours before the man stabbed his girlfriend to death after a drugs binge.

Michael Marler, 37, stabbed 24-year-old Danielle Richardson fifteen times after going on a "two week drug bender".

Hours earlier, the pair had enjoyed a last taste of normality, celebrating the romantic day early at the cinema, the Manchester Evening News reports.

The Bodyguard was being shown, the 1992 film where Whitney Houston falls in love with the man hired to protect her from a stalker.

But, after watching the film drug-free, Marler decided the time was right to get his next hit.

By the time morning came, Marler had stabbed Danielle 15 times.

For the Sheridan family, the day started with the normal rush hour commute. Lynn Sheridan dropped off her husband Peter and son Ben for work.

They had no idea of what was about to unfold – a terrifying scene that would lead to them being witnesses in the trial of a vicious, drug-fuelled murderer.

At first Peter Sheridan, being dropped off in town by his wife on a Tuesday morning, thought a dog had landed on the car from above.

Then, as if that wasn’t weird enough, the figure turned out to be a man.

That man – Marler – was so high on crack cocaine he didn’t even feel himself bounce off the roof of the vehicle.

In a flat, 25ft above, lay the lifeless body of Marler’s girlfriend, Danielle Richardson.

The young mum had had a difficult life – but a £12,000 payout she had recently received, compensation for childhood abuse, promised a better future.

Tragically, much of that money ended up being spent on Marler’s drug binges – the last of which was just before he fatally attacked her.

Shocking CCTV footage played in court showed the moment when Marler jumped 25ft from a second storey window onto their car, at 7.35am.

Mr Sheridan, who had got out to put his coat on, had heard shouting from above before the killer landed on the vehicle.

In court, Mr Sheridan told how he thought that at first it was a dog, as Marler was wearing a jacket with white and black spots.

Then he realised it was a person, but thought it was a dead body.

Soon enough he realised it was a living person.

He told the man, who was covered in blood, to sit down on a nearby wall while they called 999 for an ambulance.

But well before paramedics could arrive, Marler launched an attack on the stunned family.

He ran into the passenger seat of the car, next to where Mrs Sheridan was still sitting, punched her, and made a grab for the steering wheel.

A struggle followed, as both Mr and Mrs Sheridan desperately tried to pull him away, with Mrs Sheridan punched again before Marler ran off.

Marler’s rampage, around the streets bordering the Northern Quarter and Ancoats, continued with more bizarre violence.

He smashed the rear windscreen of a VW Golf, later found to be his own car, and continued to nearby Addington Street.

A taxi driver said Marler began kicking the doors of his car, before he punched another vehicle.

Marler, now with his shirt off, streaked in blood, then took a swing at a passer-by.

As the man tried to defend himself, they became involved in a tussle and Marler bit and punched him.

He then left and damaged more vehicles, smashing windows with his bare hands, before trying to open the door of a car of another woman on her way to work.

Punching at the window, he shrieked ‘get out of the f****** car’, but thankfully her door was locked.

After receiving various 999 calls, police eventually arrived and caught Marler.

“I’m dead, I’m dead, she’s dead”, he said on arrest.

One witness to the episode likened Marler to ‘the Incredible Hulk’, as he shouted, screamed and charged about, leaving a trail of devastation in his wake.

Once Marler had been arrested, the grim truth of what happened before he ran amok was laid bare.

Danielle’s body was found in the apartment where she and Marler had planned to stay for two nights while her Oldham home was being renovated.

The couple had met about three years ago through friends and ‘got on great’.

However Danielle’s family saw Marler as a bad influence and blamed him for her use of crack cocaine, the court heard.

She was a mum, but the drug use had led to her children being taken off her.

As for Marler, he had a litany of health problems. Brain haemorrhages, a heart attack and a series of other issues meant he’d been declared unfit to work by the time he was 31.

The couple didn’t have much money. That all changed when Danielle received £12,000 in criminal injury compensation, which she received as a result of abuse she suffered as a child.

It meant Danielle’s council flat in Oldham could be re-wired and redecorated.

And as it was approaching Valentines Day, on Monday, February 12, they decided to use some of the compensation money to spend a couple of nights away from the flat.

Danielle used her new credit card to book two nights at the Shush apartments, near to Band on the Wall, paying £140.

They arrived at the apartment at about 6pm, and left again at 7pm.

As part of their Valentine’s treat, they went to the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford, where a special drive-in cinema event was behind held.

In the two weeks before Danielle’s death, the couple had been spending £1,000 a week on crack cocaine, funded by the compensation payout.

On the evening of February 12, after the film, they returned to Oldham to pick up some belongings and to buy £200 worth of crack, as well as a pack of Desperados beer, before heading back.

They returned at about 1am, and both opened a beer and began taking the drugs, Marler said in his trial.

Fairly soon afterwards, he claimed, he didn’t feel normal, feeling different from when he had used crack previously.

He quickly became paranoid, and Danielle also began to behave strangely, he told the court.

At one point she got a knife from the kitchen and threatened to kill herself, he claimed, saying she had done this before, but that he believed it was an idle threat.

Phone records show that Marler called his son, his mother and 999 – apparently because he felt unwell.

He said that in his paranoia he recalled an incident where Danielle threatened to ‘sort him out’ now she had money, and began to believe he was being ‘set up’.

The next thing he says he remembers was being handcuffed by police officers after his rush-hour rampage through Ancoats.

Jurors heard that there is no scientific evidence to prove when Danielle died.

Her body was found by paramedics at about 8am after police saw the blood stained window and went to investigate.

They forced down the door and found the walls and the floor of the apartment were heavily blood stained.

Danielle’s body was in the area of the living room and the kitchen, face down and covered in blood.

She had been stabbed once to the face, three times to the neck and 11 times to the back in a frenzied attack involving a high level of force.

All this happened on what was an ordinary city centre morning for countless commuters making their way into the city centre for a working day.

But, for the family of tragic Danielle Richardson, and indeed, that of her killer – life would never be the same again.

Marler admitted stabbing Danielle, 24, in her face, neck and back in a Manchester city centre apartment while on a "drugs spree" but denied that he intended to kill her.

On Thursday, a jury at found him guilty of murder, a spokesman for Manchester Crown Court said.

Marler is expected to be sentenced on Friday.

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