Stevenage sex offender jailed after attack on St Albans girl

Stuart Simmonds

Stuart Simmonds - Credit: Archant

A “dangerous offender” has been jailed for sex attacks on two teenagers after one victim dodged rape by telling him she was a Christian and helped to identify him.

Stuart Simmonds, 22, appearing at St Albans Crown Court on Monday, pleaded guilty to attempted rape and assault by penetration following the attacks on April 5 earlier this year which both involved a 15-year-old girl.

He was jailed for eight years and told that on his release he will remain on licence for a further seven years because he is considered to be a danger.

One offence, for which he was convicted of sexual assault, saw Simmonds, of Collenswood Road in Stevenage, grab his victim from behind and claim he was armed with a knife.

He also attacked a St Albans girl on the Alban Way footpath as she was heading towards Hatfield to buy a bag of sugar for her mother.

Prosecuting, Richard Germain, said: “She was on the pathway walking towards the shop, with the Galleria on her left and bushes either side, when she was grabbed from behind and a hand was placed over her mouth.”

Simmonds then dragged her off the path and into a ditch and punched her in the face causing swelling to her top and bottom lip.

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Mr Germain added that he told the girl not to fight him because he had been trained in the army.

The court heard he then put his hands down her trousers.

She told him to stop and that she would not tell anyone if he let her go and explained she could believe him because she was a Christian.

After hearing that, the court heard that Simmonds helped her get up and “brushed her down because he could see her clothes were dirty.”

After discovering she had been going to buy sugar for her mum he took her to Aldi, but waited outside the shop so he would not be caught on the store’s CCTV.

When she came out of the shop he escorted her back towards her home where she arrived around 2.30pm in a distressed state and “crying uncontrollably” with a cut lip.

Police were called and used the girl’s description to spot Simmonds on CCTV taken near the store.

Subsequent enquiries led officers to identify Simmonds and they were led to his ex-girlfriend’s home in Hatfield, where he was found hiding in a loft as his clothes were being cleaned in a washing machine.

The court heard that prior to the latest attacks Simmonds had only just come out of prison and was on licence for robbing a young woman from behind.

Passing sentence Judge John Plumstead told Simmonds, who is a diabetic, that there were “startling similarities” between the two sex attacks and he told him: “Plainly you are a dangerous offender.”

He went on: “This is the nightmare of every parent and of every young woman that they will be attacked in a place by a stranger and be subjected to violence and sexual assault.

“This is people’s children being snatched, beaten and penetrated.”

Before he was jailed, it was also revealed that as a 16 year old Simmonds had carried out an almost identical attack on a 15-year-old girl walking home from school, for which he received a six month detention and training order at Luton Crown Court in 2007.

Judge Plumstead added the “charming young woman” and “brave girl” who talked him out of raping her “is responsible herself for her own salvation”.

He added the girl’s courage and the help she had given police brought about the defendant’s arrest.

The girl’s father was in court to see Simmonds jailed and the judge told him he hoped that his daughter could begin to put the ordeal behind her, to which he replied: “She is doing well.”