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A 16-year-old girl has been given the High Sheriff award by a Judge after she fought off a man who sexually assaulted her in an alleyway in Ewell last year.
The girl, who was 15 years old at the time, was walking through the alleyway next to Ewell East train station on 14 May when she was approached from behind by a man who inappropriately touched her before trying to pin her to a fence.
During a struggle to get away, the man punched her to the head, but she was able to kick him off and run home.
Using CCTV footage from the nearby train station, officers were able to use facial recognition software to identify the man as Nathan Smith, 32, of Revelon Road in Lewisham, London.
The hunt to find and arrest Smith came to an end exactly one month later when he was arrested in London for shoplifting. He was flagged as wanted in the shared police database, and whilst in custody, he was transferred to Surrey where he was questioned in connection with the sexual assault.
He denied the allegation and attempted to manipulate officers in his interview with confusing contradictions of why he was in the alleyway.
During a trial at Guildford Crown Court, Smith’s movements that evening were shown to the jury.
CCTV captured him leaving Ewell station and scoping out the alleyway, walking up and down several times before returning to the train station. Moments later, he is seen to notice the victim exit a train and walk towards the alleyway, when he then follows her.
Smith was found guilty of sexual assault and common assault at the same court last Friday, 3 February, and sentenced to six years in prison with a further four years to be served on license. He will also be on the sex offender’s register for life.
Detective Constable Nicola Dell, who investigated the case, said: “This result is testament to the victim who showed astounding bravery from the moment she fought him off, right through to court. Her testimony left the jury in no doubt of Smith’s abhorrent, pre-meditated intentions that day.
“Not only has she been through a terrifying ordeal, but she has also been able to excel at her exams whilst supporting our investigation, and I know that I, along with the officers in my team, are incredibly proud of her achievements.
“We were committed from the outset of this investigation to bringing Smith to justice, using every tool available to us to identify and arrest him. He is clearly a dangerous sexual predator and should not be allowed to threaten the safety of women and girls who have every right to walk home without fear.”
The victim and her family commented: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank Surrey Police, from the bottom of our hearts, for their care, support and professionalism in bringing this criminal to justice. Knowing that justice has been served will go a long way in starting the healing process.”
We would encourage all survivors of rape and sexual assault to come forward – whether directly to us, to a support service, or to someone you trust, such as a healthcare professional.
Surrey’s Rape and Sexual Assault Support Centre provides a support service for survivors of recent and non-recent rape and sexual assault. More advice about the support they offer can be found on their website: https://www.rasasc.org/
You can report to us via our website at https://www.surrey.police.uk/ro/report/rsa/alpha-v1/v1/rape-sexual-assault-other-sexual-offences/ or by calling us on 101. Always call 999 if someone is in immediate danger.