A 37-year-old man has been found guilty of the attempted rape of a teenager in Hastings.
Luke Anderson, unemployed and of no fixed address, assaulted his victim while she was sitting near the underpass in Wellington Place around 10pm on Saturday 29 January, 2022.
A member of the public witnessed the assault and wrestled Anderson off the victim. The witness called police and was able to identify Anderson when he returned to the scene. Officers were then able to swiftly arrest him.
Anderson was later charged with rape and pleaded not guilty during an appearance at Brighton Magistrates’ Court. He was remanded in custody until trial and maintained his innocence throughout.
Extensive enquiries were conducted, including interviews with multiple witnesses who were in the area at the time. A trawl of CCTV cameras in the town centre placed Anderson at the scene and DNA tests linked him to the victim.
A unanimous jury found him guilty on Thursday (August 4) and Anderson was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison. He will also be added to the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.
The victim, who was aged 17 at the time of the attack, has been supported by specialist-officers throughout the investigation.
Detective Sergeant Jess Langlands, from the Hastings Safeguarding Investigations Team, said: “I would like to praise the victim for her courage in coming forward and supporting the investigation, and to all the witnesses who helped our case. Particular thanks must also go to the brave member of the public who intervened in the attack and identified Anderson when he returned to the scene.
“Luke Anderson is an opportunist and deliberately targeted a young, lone woman. The victim’s strength and determination has helped remove a dangerous predator from our streets, but I know this does not take away from the impact his attack has had on her.
“We would encourage any victims of sexual abuse or assault to come forward and talk to police so we can bring these offenders to justice.”
Crime can be reported to police online or by calling 101. In an emergency, always dial 999. To pass information to police anonymously, call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.