Craig Walters, who also goes by Craig Watts and Craig Whites, was identified by using Facial Recognition on a CCTV image taken from a bus he had been travelling on.
The 39-year-old was arrested within 48 hours of the attack and last month pleaded guilty to false imprisonment with intent to commit a sexual offence.
Today he has been sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court.
Officer in the case, Detective Constable Dave Simmons, from Cardiff CID, said: “At around 10.50pm on Sunday, November 10, 2019 a young woman was followed off a bus on Pontprennau. As she walked alongside a grass verge in Pentwyn Road, she was grabbed from behind by a complete stranger.
“She bravely tried to fight him off and screamed for help until thankfully a member of the public intervened and the suspect ran off. It must have been absolutely terrifying.
“We gathered extensive CCTV from the area, including footage from the Cardiff Bus she has been travelling on, and this gave us an image of the suspect who had been on the same bus.
“Using Retrospective Facial Recognition on this CCTV image we identified the suspect as Craig Walters – someone who was known to police.
“I am in no doubt that we would have got to him eventually, but the use of retrospective facial recognition technology meant we got to him quickly and within 48 hours he was in custody.”
Following Walters’ arrest, detectives continued a painstaking analysis of CCTV to establish the sequence of events which proved that Walters was the only person in the area at the time.
At first, he denied responsibility but in December 2020, he pleaded guilty and today begins a life sentence, to serve a minimum of six years. He will also be required to register as a sex offender for life.
DC Dave Simmons has paid tribute to the victim. “What happened has had a devastating effect on her but she has shown such bravery throughout and was fully prepared to give evidence at trial,” he said.
“I would also like to thank the witness Luke Martin who assisted on the night as without his intervention I think we would have been dealing with an even more serious incident.
“Walters however is cold and dangerous individual who as shown no remorse and I believe he only pleaded guilty because of the strength of the evidence.
“I hope the successful outcome of this investigation will give other victims the confidence to come forward.
“As detectives, we use all available technology to bring offenders to justice, and help and support is available to all victims.”