St Albans man guilty of sexual assault on London Colney dog walker
PUBLISHED: 06:10 27 July 2015 | UPDATED: 09:10 27 July 2015
A man has been found guilty of sexual assault after pursuing a woman outside a convenience store following an altercation.
Stephen Lawrence, 45, of Victoria Street, St Albans, pleaded not guilty to the attack but was sentenced to an 18 month community order after being found guilty at St Albans Magistrate’s Court on Monday (20).
The court heard that Lawrence was in a store on Kings Road, London Colney, on March 12 when a woman who had been walking her dog dropped into the shop to buy cigarettes and milk at around 6.40pm.
Lawrence, who was said to be a regular face in the area, known to locals and the victim as ‘Cowboy Steve’, was inside and began making conversation with the woman, who was enquiring if the shopkeeper had boxes she could use to move house.
Believing Lawrence was drunk, the woman told him she did not want to speak to him and began ignoring his attempts to make conversation.
She left the shop to retrieve her dog which was tied up outside, followed by Lawrence who then sexually assaulted her.
The distressed woman began walking away, telling Lawrence to “f*** off and leave me alone”.
She told the court that every time she went to walk away he blocked her path.
Two men who saw the altercation intervened and, according to the victim added, they had to ‘drag him away from her’.
Lawrence was later arrested by police officers at his then home of 17 years, a camp located in a woodland five minutes away from where the incident took place.
Referring to his attempt to make conversation in the shop, Lawrence said: “I found that quite annoying. I thought ‘blimey, what’s her problem?’. I was surprised because she had never spoken to me like that before.”
He later added: “You can’t talk to people like that and just walk off. And all I’ve done is try to help her.”
Lawrence, who has a history of harassment-related charges, claimed that he knew the victim after helping her move a sofa and completing DIY jobs in her home, but the woman maintained they had only exchanged ‘pleasantries’ before the incident.
In his police statement, referred to by prosecutor David Redmond, Lawrence claimed that the victim was romantically interested in him and made up the assault as a result.
In court he said the woman owed him money and accused her of avoiding payment for jobs he did around her home.
Suggesting that was ‘complete fabrication’, Mr Redmond said: “The only reason you know that this lady is moving is because you overhear conversations. You only see her in passing.”
He added: “There’s only one person here who has a history of harassment and it’s not the victim.”
Lawrence was given a two year restraining order on top of his community order, with costs of £620 to be paid.
He is already serving a prison sentence for another offence and will complete his community order when he gets out early next year.