A man who followed and assaulted a woman as she was walking alone following a night out in Maidstone has been jailed.
Christopher Hatcher pounced on his victim as she was making her way home from the town centre, but then fled the scene after she fought back.
The incident happened at around 11.45pm on 29 March 2019, as the victim was passing through Bower Place. She was on the phone to a friend at the time, when without warning Hatcher grabbed her from behind, placing his hands over her mouth. During a struggle the woman struck Hatcher in the groin, causing him to lose his balance and dragging them both to the ground.
Hatcher then ran from the scene but was identified and arrested just hours later. He had breached licence conditions of a previous custodial sentence and was recalled to prison. A jumper he had been wearing was seized and sent for forensic examination. This later detected the victim’s DNA in saliva, recovered on both cuffs.
Hatcher, aged 36, of Tonbridge Road, Maidstone, admitted following the victim, but denied any sexual motive and claimed his intention was to steal her phone so he could sell it to buy alcohol. At Maidstone Crown Court he pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted robbery and was sentenced on Wednesday 23 September 2020 to four years’ imprisonment. Hatcher will have to serve two thirds of the sentence before he can be considered for parole. He will then be subject to an extended licence period of three years.
Detective Constable Ellen Cox, of the West Kent Vulnerability Investigation Team, said: ‘This was a premeditated incident in which Hatcher identified a lone and vulnerable woman and then targeted her in a secluded area. She had no idea anyone had been following her and it must have been a truly terrifying experience. Thankfully the victim reacted quickly and instinctively, which was enough to scare her attacker away. She has shown tremendous courage and her detailed description of Hatcher enabled us to swiftly identity and arrest him.’