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Sex attacker James Huggett tracked down on Facebook and convicted after attempted assault in Sheerness

A young woman saw her sex attacker brought to justice after she tracked him down on Facebook.

Chanel Purchase was the victim of an attempted rape just yards from her front door in April last year.

But as police began making inquiries, the 21-year-old turned detective and took to social media to trace James Huggett.

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Chanel Purchase
Chanel Purchase

Huggett, of Woodland Drive, Minster, denied one charge of attempted rape, but was convicted at Maidstone Crown Court.

The 22-year-old was remanded in custody to be sentenced on January 11.

VIDEO: Chanel Purchase speaks to reporter Rachel O'Donoghue about the ordeal

The court heard how he forced himself on Miss Purchase after walking her home from outside a Sheerness nightclub.

Miss Purchase, of Victoria Road, Sheerness, has now waived her right to anonymity to speak about her ordeal and how she caught her attacker.

She said: “He approached me outside and asked for a lighter.

“I immediately emailed it to the police and he was arrested the next day. He should go to prison”

“We got talking and he asked for number, but he didn’t tell me his name.

“He said he was going to go home and change into jeans and he would call me in 20 minutes.

“But he returned five minutes later still wearing trackie bottoms.

“I said I was going to go home and he asked if I wanted to go home with him - I just laughed it off.”

The duo walked to Miss Purchase’s house after Huggett insisted he accompany her.

But metres from her door he pushed her to the ground and launched a sickening sexual assault, pulling down Miss Purchase’s underwear and leggings and attempting to rape her.

He eventually fled when she struggled and screamed.

That night, Miss Purchase called the police, with officers immediately visiting her to take a statement and DNA swabs.

But determined to see him swiftly brought to justice, Miss Purchase, who lives with her mum Lisa, 42, and brother and sister, immediately used social media to look for him.

She added: “I knew we had mutual friends because although he didn’t tell me his name, he mentioned a couple of people.

“But he didn’t have a Facebook profile so I spent about three hours going through other people’s photos until I found a picture with him in it.

“I immediately emailed it to the police and he was arrested the next day. He should go to prison.”

The court heard a neighbour had been in bed when she heard a noise and looked outside to see what she thought was a scuffle between two people.

Chanel Purchase
Chanel Purchase

Prosecutor Simon Taylor said one was straddling the other and pinning them down.

He said: “It was then that she saw the person on the ground was a female and heard her shout ‘get off me, and if you don’t get off me I’ll scream.’,” he said.

Mr Taylor said the woman did scream and the man ran off. It was then that the neighbour recognised the victim.

Huggett claimed he repeatedly lied to his legal team about his case because his parents were heartbroken from losing a son in a fatal motorcycle accident.

He admitted he “chose a fake defence over a genuine one” to help his mum and dad.
“I lost my brother in a motorcycle accident and it was only a couple of months before this,” he told the jury.

Maidstone Crown Court. Picture: John Wardley
Maidstone Crown Court. Picture: John Wardley

“My mum and dad were going through so much. They were going through a very hard time and I didn’t want to put more pressure on them.”

He denied he gave the account because he was “hedging his bets” in the hope there was no DNA evidence.

After initially denying meeting the victim he admitted seeing her in the High Street.
He claimed they cuddled and kissed on the cheeks before he went home to change into jeans.

He said he decided to go to bed instead and did not return to the town centre.
Huggett denied trying to rape the woman and maintained she had mistakenly identified him as her attacker.

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