A 43-year-old St. John’s man has been handed a five-and-a-half year sentenced for an unprovoked attack on his neighbour.

In May 2015, Walter Howell went to his neighbour’s home to use the phone. When the woman turned her back on him, Howell hit her over the head with a piece of wood, and began beating and stabbing her. She was left with five stab wounds to her back and two punctured lungs, one of which collapsed. She had a fractured shoulder, her scalp was peeled back, and her finger was nearly completely severed.

Today, the woman says she has difficulty trusting people and is afraid to go out or be at home. She says her finger has never completely healed, her hair may never grow back and she lives in fear of Howell and his friends.

Howell has a 20-page criminal record. He initially denied attacking the woman, but later pleaded guilty and taken responsibility for the attack. With enhanced credit for time already in custody, Howell has just over four years to serve.