A “dangerous predator” who followed and sexually assaulted a woman as she walked home has been jailed.
James Cooke, 31, of Peel Road in Brighton, was jailed for seven years and eight months on Tuesday, May 3, after pleading guilty to assault on a female by penetration.
The offence took place on September 11, 2021, when Cooke’s victim – a woman in her 40s – was walking through Kemptown at around 3am.
Cooke followed her westbound towards the city centre and, despite her crossing the road several times to avoid him, grabbed her on the corner of College Place and sexually assaulted her.
A nearby resident called police after hearing the victim’s cries for help and Cooke fled the scene.
The incident was reported to police and, while the victim was given support by specialist officers, a full investigation was launched.
CCTV captured a man matching her description – later identified as Cooke – as he bought beers from a shop in St James’ Street, followed the victim through Kemptown and ran away from the scene after the offence.
Card details from the shop transaction linked the sale to Cooke and he was arrested by officers on Wednesday, October 6, 2021.
While in custody, Cooke admitted being the person in the CCTV and he was charged with assault on a female by penetration.
Following his guilty plea, he was sentenced to four years and eight months in custody, with an additional three years on licence, and placed on the sex offenders’ register until further notice.
A restraining order was also put in place banning him from contacting his victim or entering the Kemptown area of Brighton.
Investigating officer Detective Andy Scott said: “Women should be able to walk alone through the streets of Brighton and Hove, at any time of day or night, without the fear of being attacked by dangerous predators like James Cooke.
“This was a terrifying ordeal for his victim, who has shown incredible bravery in supporting the investigation and helping to put her attacker behind bars.
“Tackling violence against women and girls remains a key focus for us as a police force and this conviction should show that we will do all we can to bring perpetrators to justice and throw our full support behind victims, as well as taking proactive steps to prevent such crimes from happening and keep the public safe.”
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