Detective thanks “incredibly brave” victim for helping put rapists behind bars

Posted On 23 Nov 2022 at 2:49 pm

Pavilion Gardens by Martin Robson on Flickr

A detective has thanked a teenage rape victim for her bravery in helping put her two attackers behind bars.

Ashley Lewis, 36, and Dylan Holden, 18, were both convicted earlier this month of raping the 17-year-old girl in Pavilion Gardens last summer.

Today, the officer who led the investigation thanked the victim and a couple who intervened, called police and took the girl back home in a taxi.

Spacewords Brighton

Detective Constable Laura Pettitt said: “Women and girls should be able to go about their lives without falling victim to predatory men.

“I would like to thank the victim in this case for her incredible bravery and strength throughout the investigation and criminal justice process. Without her support, this prosecution would not have been possible and two dangerous individuals would not have been taken off the streets.

“I would also like to commend the members of the public who initially contacted the police for their role in securing this conviction and protecting a vulnerable girl from coming to further harm.

“Violence against women and girls will not be tolerated in Sussex and we will relentlessly pursue perpetrators while continuing to employ safety initiatives alongside our community partners to make sure our county remains a safe place to live and visit.”

Lewis, of Bromley, and Dylan Holden, of West Street, Brighton, are now behind bars waiting to be sentenced by Judge Martin Huseyin in January.

The attack happened after the girl and the two men spent a day on the beach on Wednesday 2 June 2021.

Lewis had only travelled down from London that day to “film women on the beach”. He got chatting to both Holden and the victim there, neither of whom he had previously met.

At the trial, the jury was told that the victim was “very much the worse for wear” and did not remember anything after drinking with a group of friends on the shingle.

Police had to piece together what happened using CCTV footage.

They were first called by a couple who were walking through Pavilion Gardens during a trip to the Brighton Festival. They saw the girl lying on the floor with Lewis standing over her and Holden standing near them.

They asked if she was ok and she slurred her words. After first walking away, they then decided to return and managed to get her away from her attackers and into a taxi home.

Officers spoke to the victim at her address the next day and a rape investigation was started while she was supported by specialist officers.

Security camera footage from the night of Wednesday 2 June showed Lewis and Holden leading the victim to Pavilion Gardens where she was raped.

Lewis was also captured on camera stealing the victim’s bag which contained her mobile phone, purse, bank cards and cash.

Both Lewis and Holden were arrested over the next two days. Lewis was charged with rape, attempted rape, sexual assault, theft and two counts of voyeurism.

Holden was charged with rape, attempted rape and two counts of sexual assault.

Four months after the rape in Pavilion Gardens, Lewis sexually assaulted another 17-year-old at a religious event in central London in October.

She challenged him and held on to him to prevent him from leaving. He pushed her away, before being stopped and arrested by police.

At Hove Crown Court on Friday 11 November, after a four-week trial, both men were found guilty of all the charges except attempted rape which was an alternative charge to rape.

Lewis had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of voyeurism, in relation to footage that he filmed of women getting changed on the beach that day.

And he was also found guilty of sexually assaulting the second victim.

The pair have been remanded in custody and will appear at Hove Crown Court for sentencing on Thursday 5 January 2023.

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