A HIGH risk offender caught in the act as he tried to rape a 17-year-old female during a brutal ordeal inside her own South Cumbria flat has been jailed for eight years.
Stephen Hodgson’s violent attack on the terrified teenager, early on December 28 at Kendal, occurred less than a fortnight after he was released from prison, followed a day’s drinking and was committed just hours after he met the girl.
Carlisle Crown Court heard 23-year-old Hodgson turned angry and punched the female in the face, fracturing her nose, before wrapping one arm around her neck and using his other hand to cover her mouth.
“She tried to scream for help and she banged her legs on the floor,” prosecutor Richard Haworth told Carlisle Crown Court. “The defendant told her to shut up. Her legs became weak and numb. She couldn’t feel anything and she believes that she must have lost consciousness.”
As cries of “help me” were heard elsewhere in the building, a man became aware of “screaming, howling, crashing and banging”, and entered the flat. He caught Hodgson trying to rape the female, who was lying on the floor, crying, wrapped in lights and decorations with a toppled Christmas tree next to her. “She was crying and screaming. Her face was covered in blood,” said Mr Haworth, who added: “This was within a whisker of a fully completed offence.”
The female told the man Hodgson had “kicked her in the face a lot of times and she thought he was going to kill her”. Hodgson left the scene, discarding his blood-stained white hooded top nearby, but after a description was circulated he was detained in Kendal town centre.
In a victim impact statement, the female spoke of being left “terrified”, “scared” and “utterly frightened”. “Since this has happened I feel I that a part of me has gone, like something is missing,” she stated. “I feel like I‘m carrying weight around with me that isn’t going away.” Having suffered numerous injuries, she added: “I have never felt like this before and I don’t ever want to feel like this again. It felt like torture.”
Police who searched Hodgson’s mobile phone in the aftermath found evidence of web searches for prostitutes and escorts, child abuse images, rape scenes and videos. One “rape” search was made while he was with the female. When interviewed, he told officers he hadn’t had sex for four years.
Hodgson, of Herdus Road, Whitehaven, admitted attempted rape. The crime occurred just days after his release from a 39-month prison sentence he’d received in 2016 after stabbing two women with a carving fork at an 18th birthday party in his home town.
Judge Nicholas Barker spoke of a “deeply troubling” crime and ordered that Hodgson should also serve an extended five-year licence period and must sign the sex offender register for life. “It is clear to me,” said the judge, “when you travelled to Kendal that you had an interest in violent and disturbing sexual experiences.”
“You are very high risk,” concluded the judge. “I do find you dangerous.”
Detective Sergeant Duncan Helmn said, “This was a horrendous attack on a young vulnerable girl.
“The defendant had travelled from West Cumbria to Kendal having been introduced to the victim online.
“His intentions were clear from the start, this was evident from the horrific internet searches we found on his phone.
“He was only prevented from carrying out the full attack by the key witness in the case, who I want to thank for bravely stepping in.
“I also want to thank the victim for the bravery and courage she has shown throughout this ordeal, as well as all the officers involved in ensuring this man faces a lengthy term of imprisonment.
“I would urge anyone who has been subject to offences of this nature to come forward, you will be believed and any report will be dealt with professionally and sensitively.”
If you wish to report a crime or speak to an officer about an incident, please contact Cumbria Police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
If you have been affected by rape or sexual assault, contact The Bridgeway Sexual Assault Support Service’s 24/7 free helpline on 0808 118 6432.