A 58-year-old has been found guilty of ‘violently assaulting’ a woman walking home in Brighton – although the jury could not decide if the attack was carried out with intent to commit a sexual act.
Stephen Jay, 58, self-employed, of Wrights Lane, Kesgrave, Ipswich was convicted in May at Lewes Crown Court of attacking the woman in August 2016.
After a retrial on the sexual element of the case at Brighton Crown Court between July 3-11, a second jury was unable to agree a verdict. Jay had previously been found not guilty of causing actual bodily harm and sexual assault on another 21-year old woman walking in Hanover Terrace, Brighton on September 1 at his first trial.
At about 3am on Sunday, August 14, a 26-year-old woman was walking home alone after a night out in Brighton.
As she walked up Gerard Street she became aware of a man ducking behind cars as if trying to hide, Sussex Police said. She confronted him and asked why he was following her. She crossed Gerard Street onto the nearside pavement and was walking towards Ditchling Rise.
Officers said Jay then hit her in the face several times; a witness saw the attacker’s hand around her throat and another over her mouth as he straddled her whilst on the ground. Concerned neighbours heard the screams and came to her aid.
Neighbours gathered up her belongings that had fallen from her bag during the unprovoked attack. A couple of days later the victim went to her bag and found that it contained a baseball cap that did not belong to her. This was sent off for analysis and found to have DNA from Stephen Jay within it, said police.
Detective Inspector Mick Jones said: “Stephen Jay is a former town pastor from Ipswich who was training to be a life coach to provide help to those who need it including the vulnerable.
“His work as a town pastor meant that he used to work during evenings in the city centre of Ipswich providing support for those often found vulnerable through drink and drugs. He was also a prominent member of his local church.
“Far from protecting the vulnerable, this investigation has shown him to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing; someone who targeted a lone woman walking home in the early hours of the morning and violently assaulted her in an unprovoked attack.
“Jay admitted that during that evening leading up to the attack and the early hours of the morning immediately afterwards, he was having a sexual conversation with another woman who he was having an online affair with, discussing his liking for bondage, domination and sado-masochism. After the assault, he admitted masturbating in his car in a public place.”
HHJ Laing deferred sentencing until August 29 for psychiatric reports to be prepared. Jay was remanded in custody.