Published: 00:00, 04 November 2016
| Updated: 10:15, 04 November 2016
A sex fiend who stalked and attacked a student walking alone in Canterbury was today jailed for nine years.
Samuel King, 25, spotted his drunken victim as she made her way through the city centre in the early hours of the morning.
As she walked through the dimly lit Dane John Gardens, he struck – knocking her to the ground and tearing off her underwear.
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But the brave woman began screaming and she was heard by other students out celebrating getting their degrees, who then raced to her aid.
Judge Heather Norton told him: "It must have been a terrifying incident for your victim."
King, who lives in a tent in Ashford, claimed he was only trying to rob her – but the jury at Canterbury Crown Court rejected his claim and convicted him of attempted rape.
King had been out that night with his 32-year-old cousin Damien Davey, who also lives in an Ashford tent, and the two were caught on CCTV stalking the woman.
The jury found Davey not guilty of attempted rape but guilty of attempted robbery and possessing a knife.
Davey, who was on licence from prison at the time, was jailed for seven years.
Passing sentence, Judge Norton said: "You two hatched a plan to rob a young, drunk, vulnerable girl. You then followed her through the town.
"You used a degree of violence which was way more than was necessary.
"Your victim was both physically and psychologically injured."
The victim, in her impact statement, said the attack had "severely changed my life".
She told police: "They had no regard for me or my well-being - they were like primal monsters, causing serious unnecessary injuries to get whatever their goal was, which still isn't clear to me.
"I don't think I will ever know the truth, and I think I would rather not.
"I only want justice but as much as I try to deny it, I have to admit this has severely changed my life."
She revealed earlier in her victim statement that the stress of the case had caused "me to adjust my life, the way I think, the way I act, the relationship between my friends."
"They were like primal monsters, causing serious unnecessary injuries to get whatever their goal was, which still isn't clear to me" - victim
She added: "All because the defendants had one thing on their mind... what they wanted."
John Fitzgerald, for King, said the sex assault happened "in the heat of the moment" and only lasted 25 seconds".
He continued: "Although it must have seemed like a lifetime to her and he realises how disgraceful his behaviour was. He is genuinely sorry for what he did."
After the hearing, the officer in charge of the case, Detective Chief Inspector Nick Gossett, praised the victim for her courage and also the students, including Fred Di Rosa and James Kirkham, who raced to her aid.
He said: “The victim did the right thing in screaming as loud as she could and there may have been many who might have ignored her screams, but these students showed bravery in reacting, offering her support and comfort.
“Others then challenged these two men. Canterbury can be proud of the way these students behaved that night and the police is very grateful for their public spiritedness.”
Judge Norton also commended Fred Di Rosa and James Kirkham, nominating them for a High Sheriff Award for Bravery.
They included Andrea Walker, Robert Walte, Samantha Steer, Catherine Gerrad and Sebastian Porter.
The victim had been drinking in a city bar in May this year and was on her way home when she was spotted by the cousins, who had been drinking and smoking cannabis.
A video of her police interview was played to the jury in which she said she could remember little after leaving the bar.
She told officers: “I don’t remember much about the incident, (other than) suddenly realising I was in a lot of trouble, ‘cos I was pinned down and I couldn’t move.”
Simon Taylor, prosecuting, told how her head was banged on the ground until she lost consciousness.
The victim added: “I just remember thinking: ‘You have to scream’. I was struggling to breathe properly. I don’t know if that was because he was banging my head but I was struggling to inhale.
“I think I remember thinking ‘Oh my God, he’s going to try and have sex with me’. I remember thinking: ‘No, no, no, I really don’t want this to happen’," she added.
The woman, who suffered a black eye and cuts and bruises to her head, lips and elbow, woke up to find Rose Trustmann, a passerby, offering her help.
The cousins were seen running away and one of the other students chased after Davey and confronted him.
He asked him what was going on. Davey, who was walking behind King, claimed: “I just saw that man attack some girl earlier on in the park."
Davey, who was seen holding a knife, was acquitted of attempted rape but convicted of attempted robbery and possessing a knife.
A charge of indecent assault was left on file after the jury couldn’t agree on a verdict. He had denied all the charges.
King, who has worked as a chef in West London, Ashford and Dover, had admitted indecent assault and attempted robbery but denied attempted rape.
After the hearing, investigating officer Detective Constable Murray Tester said: "Fortunately, these types of incidents are rare, but enforce the need for people to keep safe.
"We always advise people to stay with friends as much as possible and stick to well-lit areas. Although the verdicts can be viewed as a positive, we cannot forget that this was an extremely violent attack on a completely unknowing and innocent young woman, which has never been in dispute from the defence.
"The clear objective of the defendants has been realised through today’s verdicts. The bravery and persistence of the victim to scream as loud as she could stopped anything worse from happening; and her efforts to assist Kent Police all throughout the investigation and trial is not unrecognised and is the key to ensuring these two defendants receive the justice deserved."
More by this authorPaul Hooper