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Greggs worker Emily Sweetland, from Ramsgate, sexually assaulted eight girls across Canterbury and Thanet

A schoolgirl sexually assaulted by a young woman in Starbucks has told how she has flashbacks about the ordeal.

The teenager was one of eight girls attacked in public places by twisted 21-year-old Emily Sweetland, who terrorised some of her young victims in Canterbury city centre.

The Greggs bakery worker approached the 13-year-old in the coffee shop in Rose Lane and put her hand up her skirt.

Emily Sweetland photographed at Canterbury West railway station (9870224)
Emily Sweetland photographed at Canterbury West railway station (9870224)

The terrified victim told KentOnline she had been sitting with friends when Sweetland approached.

“She came and sat down near our table and pulled up a chair,” she said.

“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.”

The victim went to the city’s bus station but was followed by Sweetland. She eventually made it home, and the police were called.

Sweetland groped a schoolgirl in Canterbury's Starbucks
Sweetland groped a schoolgirl in Canterbury's Starbucks

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

“It has really taken its toll on her,” she said.

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

“She’s even said she doesn’t want to go back to school because she’s so scared.

“It was meant to be a fun Easter holidays but she spent the whole time in tears.

Another girl was attacked at Canterbury Bus Station
Another girl was attacked at Canterbury Bus Station

“She’s gone from being a happy child who loves being with her friends to someone who doesn’t want to go out because she feels so unsafe.

“It’s devastated us as a family. I just want my happy little girl back.”

The attack in April was one of 11 in the space of four days – eight on girls and three on women.

The first happened in Minster, 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 were attacked by Sweetland, with some of the offences taking place in Rose Lane, at the city’s bus station and at Canterbury West railway station. A sixth victim, a woman, was also targeted.

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.

Canterbury West Station was also the scene of one of Sweetland's sex attacks
Canterbury West Station was also the scene of one of Sweetland's sex attacks

Appearing via video link from HMP Bronzefield, Sweetland, dressed in a white Nike t-shirt, admitted 11 sexual assaults charge but denied a count of witness intimidation.

Prosecuting barrister Francesca Levett requested the charge lie on file.

Sweetland admitted she “needs help” with her impulsive behaviour, her defence barrister John Barker said.

“At the time she did not feel like it was wrong, but she now knows retrospectively that it was,” he explained. “She said she needs help.”

Sweetland will be sentenced on June 14 for what Recorder James Weekes described as “clearly serious offences”.

Sweetland pleaded guilty at Canterbury Crown Court to the sex attacks
Sweetland pleaded guilty at Canterbury Crown Court to the sex attacks

“You are now subject to the Sex Offenders’ Register,” he told Sweetland. “You must notify the police of your address and other details.

“I should warn you that the offences are clearly serious both individually and collectively.”

Judge Weekes told Sweetland even though a pre-sentence report has been ordered for five weeks’ time a prison sentence is likely when she is sentenced in five weeks.

Sweetland, of Warten Road in Ramsgate, was remanded in custody at the same prison until sentencing.

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

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