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Teenager jailed for sex assault on jogger while he was on bail; PERVERT HAD ALSO LEFT PAL WITH SERIOUS INJURIES IN CAR SMASH.

Byline: ROB KENNEDY Court Reporter rob.kennedy@ncjmedia.co.uk @ChronicleCourt

A SEX attacker and "lunatic" driver who pounced on a woman out jogging after leaving his friend seriously injured in a car crash has been jailed for five years.

BMX-riding pervert Rhyss Laws subjected an early-morning runner to a terrifying ordeal during which she desperately fought him off, believing he was about to rape her as he pinned her down.

A court heard the victim, who is in her 40s, has been left deeply traumatised by the sex assault, during which she was pinned to the ground as Laws tried to pull her leggings down.

The 19-year-old, who was under the influence of drink and drugs at the time, denies the attack was sexually motivated and maintains he was trying to rob her but a jury convicted him of two offences of sexual assault.

He had previously admitted assaulting the victim after she was left with a broken finger in the struggle.

Laws, of Storey Crescent, Newbigginby-the-Sea, Northumberland, was on bail at the time having left his friend seriously hurt while driving like a "lunatic", Newcastle Crown Court heard.

As he was locked up for both sets of offences, the victim of the sex attack said in a statement read to the court: "At the time of this attack I was terrified I was going to be raped. I have no doubt in my mind that was his intention.

"It seemed to go on forever and he kept telling me to 'shut up, shut up' as he sat astride me.

"I often think what could have happened if I didn't fight back and hit him with my water bottle and scream as loud as I could."

The woman said she has been left nervous and anxious and wishes she had not gone out running that morning. "I somehow feel it's my fault," she said. "I wish I had a time machine to go back in time. I suffer panic attacks and nightmares that he is waiting for me outside my house."

The court heard the woman was running in Ashington, Northumberland, just after 6am when hooded Laws struck last October.

He slapped her bottom then, soon afterwards, "ran at her", took her to the ground and tried to pull her jogging leggings down.

The "screaming" victim fought back with a water bottle she was carrying. As well as the prison sentence, Laws must sign the sex offenders' register for life.

Penny Hall, for Laws, who has become a father while in custody, said: "It was always accepted he put the complainant to the floor and got on top of her, the issue at trial was the sexual element, which was denied and still is denied, but he accepts she would have believed she would have been raped because of the circumstances.

"Despite the sexual element not being admitted he is remorseful for his actions. He can't believe the way he acted. He says it was the stupidest thing he has ever done and he will never take drugs again."

With regard to the driving offences, Laws admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving to his friend and passenger, as well as having no insurance and driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence.

Just before 9pm on May 7 last year, he was driving a Ford Focus with a speedlimited space saver tyre and a snapped roll bar, when he lost control on the A197 Woodhorn Road, in Newbigginby-the-Sea.

Laws took a bend too fast, narrowly missing a pedestrian pushing a pram and collided with a lamp post.

His 19-year-old rear passenger sustained serious head injuries and fractures to his rib and clavicle.

He had to be put into an induced coma and suffered mild to moderate brain injury.

The victim, who has been suffering flashbacks and sleepless nights, was in hospital for seven weeks and now has memory problems and is unable to work.

He said: "He was driving like a lunatic and it was his dangerous driving that led him to lose control. He nearly killed me and left my parent without a son."

Miss Hall said: "The reason he drove was to prevent his friend, the complainant, from driving as he had consumed alcohol. The defendant lost control and swerved to avoid a lady.

"He was concerned for his friend and was clearly remorseful."

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Rhyss Laws has been jailed for five years
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 11, 2018
Words:738
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