‘Dangerous’ Brighton man jailed after attack on a child

Michael Belhawla SUS-180409-112156001
Michael Belhawla SUS-180409-112156001

A man who was charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm on a young girl after he grabbed her and knocked her to the ground in Brighton has been jailed.

Michael Belhawla, 24, formerly of North Road, Brighton, followed the girl as she was walked to post a letter at 8.30am on May 5.

He pushed her to the ground and put his hand over the mouth, said police. Two passers-by came to her aid and he ran off.

Detectives launched an investigation to find Belhawla and released CCTV images of the suspect and key witnesses. He was recognised by police officers and arrested two days later at an address in Brighton.

Sussex Police said his victim had post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed as a result of the attack. The court heard that she now suffers from anxiety, flashbacks and has trouble sleeping.

Belhawla pleaded guilty to inflicting GBH based on psychological harm when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court on July 4, having denied the original charges of attempted kidnap and attempted sexual assault by touching on a girl, said police.

He was jailed for three years for the offence when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court on August 31 and sentenced for two other offences. He was also jailed for seven years for a violent attack in Castle Square, Brighton, on January 14 2017.

Officers said Belhawla got involved in a fight and tried to stab a 37-year-old man with a broken bottle. The victim suffered a serious wound injury to his back which needed 11 stitches and had been left traumatised by his ordeal.

He pleaded guilty to wounding with intent on June 6.

Six months after the attempted stabbing, Belhawla took a white Ford Transit van and crashed into a Ford Focus car while over the drink drive limit on July 23 in Auckland Drive, Bevendean, police said.

He admitted aggravated vehicle taking – and driving while over the limit and with no insurance and was sentenced to a further year in prison, making 11 in total. He was also banned from driving.

The court also heard that Belhawla had faced a number of other unrelated charges, all of which he denied.

These included burglary, assault causing grievous bodily harm (GBH), having a weapon and wounding with intent.

The judge ordered that those charges should not be proceeded with but left on the file.

After the case Detective Inspector Lee Horner said, “Belhawla is a dangerous man who committed a string of offences and actions, which have left two of his victims traumatised.

“However he has now been jailed for 11 years taking him off the streets of Brighton.”