Man guilty of attempted rape of girl, 13, near Alban Way

The attack took place on a towpath near the Alban Way.

The attack took place on a towpath near the Alban Way. - Credit: Matt Adams

A man who tried to rape a 13-year-old girl near the Alban Way has been convicted of the attack.

St Albans Crown Court heard how Jay Brett, 31, pushed the teenager to the ground and put his hands up her dress, pulling down her underwear to just above her knees. When he tried to pull down his own shorts, she managed to break free and run away.

Prosecutor Wayne Cleaver told the court the incident took place at around 2.50pm on Sunday August 2 last year.

The girl and a group of friends were out enjoying themselves on a towpath beside the river which ran alongside the Alban Way, not far from the city centre.

He said: “She was unexpectedly approached by a man who grabbed her, pushed her to the ground, tried to remove her underwear and tried to sexually assault her.

“This was a random attack in which a man intended to rape and sexually assault this young girl and that man was Jay Brett.”

The girl was watching her friends paddle in a shallow section of the river from the towpath.

She said Brett then appeared on the path and she stepped aside to let him pass. Her friends made their way along the river away from him and she decided to follow them along the path.

The jury heard bushes obscured sight of her friends and it was then that the man came up to her.

She said: “I think he said something to me and then he just put his hand over my mouth and he put me on the floor on my back and kneeled down in front of me.

“His hand went under my dress and he tried to take my pants off."

The girl told the court the defendant tried to touch her intimately and she screamed for help, but was able to get free and run off to rejoin her friends.

“I was in shock, I was shaking,” she told the jury. She said a man was on the phone to the police, who arrived after a “couple of minutes”.

The day after the attack a police officer spotted Brett and realised he matched the girl's description of her attacker. The defendant was arrested shortly afterwards.

The jury was told forensic swab tests taken from the girl's face where she said the attacker had placed his hand over her mouth revealed DNA components which matched the defendant.

Mr Cleaver said the same tests carried out in the area of her inner thighs and pants revealed similar DNA links.

Brett, of Praetorian Crescent, St Albans, told the jury he had been walking along the towpath that afternoon on the way to see a friend.

He said lots of people were out enjoying the sunshine and he came across a group of “young people” who were in the shallow part of a stream.

Brett said he had seen a young girl on the footpath near the group and became aware she had fallen over. He said he offered to help her to her feet and put out his hand, but she got to her feet and ran off.

Asked by his barrister Scott Brady why he had made the offer, he said: “Because I am a kind gentleman and I would offer to help someone."

Asked if he had any sexual motive, he answered “None whatsoever.”

He denied the attack and said he couldn’t explain how traces of his DNA came to be on the girl’s face, inner thighs and knickers.

Recorder David Spens QC adjourned sentence for a psychiatric report and a report that will assess the level of danger Brett poses.

He told the jury: “You have convicted him of an extremely serious offence.  It would appear he is suffering from some mental disability. It is plain he may be potentially very dangerous. The court has to investigate these matters and take them into account before passing the appropriate sentence.”

The judge remanded Brett in custody for a sentence hearing on May 21 at Chelmsford Crown Court.