Beautician strangled neighbour after falling for rumours and taking law into her own hands

Natalie Shelley has been sentenced to 12 months in jail – suspended for 18 months (Picture: Cavendish Press)

A beautician strangled an innocent businesswoman in a revenge attack after mistakenly believing she was involved in the sexual abuse of children.

Natalie Shelley, 37, burst into the £500,000 home of event manager Celine Woodfield, 35, and choked her after learning the victim’s ex-boyfriend was being investigated on suspicion of assault.

A court heard that Shelley – a close friend and neighbour of Miss Woodfield – had initially called the police because she thought her neighbour and her ex-partner were involved in the abuse

But she then took the law into her own hands and decided to confront the victim herself on June 29 last year after being advised an officer would call her back.

During the assault, Shelly, who was described as being normally ‘gentle, placid, and loving’, also grabbed Miss Woodfield by the hair and ‘yanked’ her head before being pulled away by a friend of the victim.

Miss Woodfield was not injured in the attack, but suffered severe psychological pain – and was so traumatised by the attack she left and sold her four-bedroom home in Hartford, Cheshire.

Celine Woodfield eventually sold her home and moved (Picture: Cavendish Press)

Shelley wept in court as she was sentenced (Picture: Cavendish Press)

No charges have been brought against Miss Woodfield or her former partner about the alleged abuse and there is no suggestion the victim was ever under investigation by police.

In a statement, Miss Woodfield said: ‘My day-to-day life has been completely changed since this incident, with my mental health taking a considerable toll.

‘My anxiety levels have shot through the roof to a level that I have never experienced before, and I have been feeling paranoid about any further problems which Natalie may cause me.

‘I do not yet feel strong enough to talk about the effect of this incident in full.

‘In time, I know that I will need to seek professional advice through the means of counselling or therapy, but I know that I am not in the right place yet to be able to do this properly.’

At Chester Crown Court, Shelley wept while facing charges of assault and non-fatal strangulation, both which carry prison sentences.

Shelley was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, along with requirements that she undertake 200 hours of unpaid work and 15 days of rehabilitation activity.

She will also have to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work (Picture: Cavendish Press)

Shelley is banned from contacting Miss Woodfield for ten years (Picture: Cavendish Press)

She was also banned from contacting Miss Woodfield for ten years under the terms of a restraining order.

Prosecutor Miss Jayne Morris said: ‘During that evening Miss Woodfield was at home when she heard a loud knock at the door and saw the defendant who was described as having a crazy look on her face.

‘The defendant pushed her way in and was repeatedly shouting “rape” and “where is she?”…

‘Miss Woodfield thought if she spoke to the defendant she might calm her down but instead, the defendant pushed her into the kitchen and grabbed her neck with both hands.

‘She says she felt like she could not breathe and when the defendant did let go, she grabbed Miss Woodfield’s hair very forcibly and in her words was “yanking her head from side to side and up and down”. A male at the house was eventually able to usher the defendant out of the address.’

In her victim impact statement, Miss Woodfield said: ‘As the weeks and months passed, I hoped that I would find the strength to be able to move back into my home, but ultimately I felt that I had no option but to sell and move elsewhere, in hope that I could re-discover the sense of safety and privacy that any person should expect when they are in their own home.’

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Defence counsel Gareth Roberts said: ‘This is something she is profoundly ashamed of and she is most embarrassed by her own actions.

‘She is a university graduate and has never been in trouble before in her life. She provides cosmetic assistance after surgery, usually cancer.

‘Miss Woodfield and Mrs Shelley were in a group of friends that would all socialise together.’

‘Mrs Shelley initially acted properly, contacted the police, and was told to wait for the officer to phone her back. But at this stage, she made the extremely unwise and stupid decision and went round to confront her.’

Sentencing Judge Simon Berkson said the attack was ‘nasty and determined’ and told Shelley: ‘You were in effect taking the law into your own hands. You are not required to go around and beat people up if you do not like what they have done.

‘But everybody says on your behalf that you are not that person and I accept the circumstances must have been a trigger that caused you to act out of character.

‘That said, this caused your victim to leave her address. It affected her life significantly. Please bear that in mind as you leave the court today.’

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