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Emily Sweetland attacked more girls in Canterbury on bail but police have defended decision

ByEleanor Perkins

A perverted baker who sexually assaulted eight girls and three women committed more crimes while on bail.

Police have defended their decision to release Emily Sweetland - who wants to be known as Elliot - after she was jailed for three years yesterday.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Daniel Hodgson from the vulnerability investigating team said the force's decision at the time was in accordance with Home Office guidelines.

Emily Sweetland - who now identifies as a man, Elliot - has been jailed for three years Picture: Kent Police
Emily Sweetland - who now identifies as a man, Elliot - has been jailed for three years Picture: Kent Police

Canterbury Crown Court heard that Sweetland committed several of the offences after being released on bail, having made a full admission during a police interview.

The judge called into question the decision, referring to it as a "serious error".

But DC Hodgson said: "We immediately made an arrest when we became aware of Sweetland's offending, and in order for us to carry out further enquiries into the incidents and in accordance with Home Office guidelines, released on bail.

"But, Sweetland went onto to commit further crimes.

"I am pleased that a custodial sentence has been given and no longer able to cause distress to the people of Canterbury."

During a four-day frenzy, Sweetland put her hand up one 13-year-old’s skirt in a coffee shop and accosted her other victims in public.

The 21-year-old, who used to work at Greggs in Ramsgate, was sentenced to three years for the most serious of her offences, having pleaded guilty to 11 sexual attacks at an earlier hearing.

Sentences varying from 12 to 18 months were given for the 10 other offences, which will run concurrently.

At one point Sweetland, who appeared by video link from HMP Bronzefield in Surrey and wearing a white shirt with a Levi logo and tracksuit bottoms, laughed during the judge’s sentencing remarks.

The cruel attacker approached one 13-year-old in Starbucks and put a hand up her skirt.

The terrified victim said: "She came and sat down near our table and pulled up a chair.

“We thought she was a man, and we felt uncomfortable so got up to leave.

"As I stood up she put her hand up my skirt and grabbed me. I just screamed and we ran off.”

Emily Sweetland photographed at Canterbury West railway station
Emily Sweetland photographed at Canterbury West railway station

The victim fled to Canterbury Bus Station off Watling Street but Sweetland pursued her.

Her devastated mum told how the attack left her daughter struggling to sleep and terrified of new people approaching her.

“We can’t go where there are strangers around because she’s worried it will happen again,” she said.

During sentencing Judge Mark Weekes gave a run through of the 11 offences committed by Sweetland.

These included but are not limited to squeezing his victim’s buttocks and legs, touching their knees and slapping their buttocks.

The judge also went into detail the effect the attacks have had on the victim's - some of which have been too afraid to leave the house, to go out alone and have had time off work or school.

Others have been left with PTSD or needing counselling.

Judge Weekes, who referred to Sweetland as a man under his new name Elliot, said: “It is clear that in almost every case the incidents have left a mark on the victims.

"The conduct here is to serious for a suspended sentence. He does pose a risk to the public."

The judge said he had read two psychiatric reports that “make for troubling reading”.

In one of the reports read to the court by the judge Sweetland admitted to being "sexually attracted" to all the victims and "felt aroused" when touching them.

Sweetland was also quoted in the report as saying "the demon in me took over" and claimed to have had no control.

An assessment of Sweetland from a pre-sentence report and read out by the judge today described the attacker as "prolific", "targeted" and "predatory".

The judge did make reference to Sweetland being a vulnerable individual.

Of the sentencing to three years, he said: "Some will view the sentence as not being long enough but courts are bound by guidelines.

"No sentence I can pass will undo the harm caused."

Emily Sweetland sexually assaulted girls in Rose Lane, Canterbury
Emily Sweetland sexually assaulted girls in Rose Lane, Canterbury

Sweetland taunted the families of the victims in court last week when the sentencing was due to take place.

Canterbury Crown Court heard the attacks took place from April 3 until Sweetland was arrested on April 6.

The first happened in Thanet, on April 3, when two teenage girls were touched sexually without their consent.

Two days later, in Canterbury, five girls aged between 12 and 15, and a woman, were attacked by Sweetland.

Sweetland was arrested on the evening of Saturday, April 6, following sexual assaults in Ramsgate on three more victims – two women and a 13-year-old girl.

Sweetland will also be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, and a Criminal Behaviour Order - the details of which are to be discussed at a date in July.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Sweetland has shown nothing but disdain for her victims in court, compounding the trauma they have already experienced.

"We hope they are receiving support to get their lives back on track.

“These actions were opportunistic and predatory and it is vital that Sweetland undergoes rehabilitation to minimise the risk she poses to the public.”

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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