An Eastbourne man has been given an eight-year prison sentence for a series of sexual assaults on young women and girls in streets in the town.
And crucial information which helped produce a vital breakthrough in the case came from two local people.
Isaac Watson, 24, unemployed, of Victoria Road, Eastbourne, was sentenced by Judge Christine Laing, QC, when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court today (Monday, September 24).
At previous hearings Watson had pleaded guilty to five sexual assaults on:
- a 30-year-old woman in Hartfield Road on September 16 2012;
- a 12-year-old girl in Ocklynge Road on December 15 2015;
- a 32-year-old woman in Woodcroft Drive on April 11 2016;
- a 13-year-old girl in Cherry Garden Road on May 16 2017;
- an 11-year-old girl in Longland Road on September 19 2017.
He had pleaded not guilty to four other sexual assaults. At the request of the CPS the court agreed to allow these four cases to lie on the court file, and they were not proceeded with.
Watson will have to serve the first two-thirds of this eight-year sentence in prison before being allowed to apply for parole. On eventual release he will be on strict licence conditions for a further six years, and will also be a registered sex offender for life.
The prosecution followed an investigation led by detectives from the East Sussex Criminal Investigations team at Eastbourne, with support from local officers and specialist staff.
Watson has been in custody since January 2018.
In sentencing Watson, Judge Laing described him as exceptionally dangerous. She said the Victim Impact Statement of the Ocklynge Road victim, read out in court by her mother, was very moving, and that the similar Statement of the Longland Road victim was particularly distressing.
Detective Constable Dan Thomson said; “Over several years Watson had carried out a series of attacks on women and young girls who were walking along the streets in the Old Town area.
“Each case had been fully investigated we had not been able to identify the assailant.
“Watson targeted his victims carefully and tended to avoid areas where there might be witnesses or CCTV. In some cases he was careful to hide his face.
“Because he had never before been arrested his DNA was not on file.
“But the thorough investigative approach, including the obtaining of DNA evidence, was to pay dividends when Watson was finally traced.
“He would run up behind his victims, taking them unawares, and sexually assault them under their clothing before running off.
“They were all very shocked and upset by this disgusting and frightening behaviour.
“Finally, after the incident in September last year, we secured several witnesses.
“When we issued an Efit of the suspect to the media and public several names were put forward, including Watson.
“The Efit had been completed with the assistance of an 11-year-old girl who was a witness to the September 2017 offence, and the resemblance between the Efit and Watson is one of the best I have seen. This is a testament to the memory and descriptive ability of this very young witness.
“Watson might not have been identified as the offender without this young girl’s evidence, or another report from a member of the public who saw the Efit in the media and contacted us to give us his name. She also told us that at the time the Efit was published, Watson had cut his hair, which increased our suspicions of him.
“This case really shows the value of the witness appeals we make to the public. We thoroughly investigate all information which is provided to us, and in this case the information we received was vital.
“After his arrest, Watson’s DNA was found to closely match that found on the clothing of five of the victims. Further detailed enquiries into Watson’s activities led to additional evidence which helped to prove that he was in the relevant areas at the time of the attacks.
“As a result of this evidence, Watson had little option but to plead guilty to the five offences and although four others were not proceeded with it is fair to say that we are not looking for anyone else in connection with them.
“Thanks to the valuable evidence of the two witnesses in the Longland Road case, and to our own investigations, combined with the DNA, a dangerous offender, who would undoubtedly have continued to attack women, possibly with even more serious consequences, has been taken off the streets of Eastbourne.”