Brave schoolgirl's smarts sees sex attacker jailed for over 13 years

Sex attacker caught on camera by his schoolgirl victim: Brave teenager, 15, ‘fought for her life’ to escape knife prowler then turned to take photo on her phone that put him behind bars for nearly 14 years

  • Nathan Rawson, 25, forced his victim into a bush at knife-point while in Leeds
  • Schoolgirl, 15, feared Rawson would murder her as she ‘fought for her life’ that day, but used her wits to take a picture of his face that would send him down
  • He was jailed at Leeds Crown Court after admitting a string of earlier crimes
  • Rawson had previously been convicted for a similar offence after he sexually assaulted and stalked a woman through the streets in February 2016

A knife-wielding sex offender has been jailed after his brave schoolgirl victim fought him off and took the picture that sent him down for nearly 14 years at court. 

The courageous 15-year-old fought off Nathan Rawson, 25, after he forced her into bushes at knife-point as she walked across fields in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

The teen suffered a serious cut to her hand during the struggle for her life, but had the presence of mind to use her mobile phone to take pictures of her attacker which led to him being brought to justice.

The youngster said she feared Rawson was about to ‘murder her’ as she recalled how she fought for her life that day at court.

Rawson was jailed for more than 13 years after pleading guilty to a string of earlier offences, including kidnapping, unlawful wounding and two counts of burglary. 

The quick-thinking schoolgirl managed to take this photo of Nathan Rawson after he had forced her into a bush at knife-point in Leeds

Nathan Rawson is pictured running away from his victim, 15, after she fought him off and took his picture

Leeds Crown Court heard Rawson targeted the girl as she walked across fields near to Torre Close, Burmantofts, on February 15, 2019.

The victim was listening to music on her headphones when he walked up to her and grabbed her by the waist.

Rawson then showed the girl a knife and ordered her to go with him.

He forced her to go into bushes with him then pushed her shoulders downwards.

Fearing she was going to be killed, the girl grabbed hold of the knife when she saw the handle of the blade sticking out of his clothing.

There was a struggle and the teenager cut her hand on the weapon but managed to take it from him and ran.

She took out her mobile phone to call police as she fled but Rawson chased after her demanding she return the knife.

But the quick-thinking teenager used her phone to take pictures of Rawson, who was later identified after investigating officers used these same images.

Nathan Rawson, 25, was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison after he admitted to a string of offences including kidnapping, unlawful wounding and burglary

Rawson ran off and the victim ran to a street where she called an ambulance and asked residents for help.

The victim retraced her steps from the incident as she returned to the crime scene with a detective who filmed her as she described her ordeal.

The footage was to be used at Rawson’s trial but was played in court at his sentencing hearing after he admitted responsibility for the attack.

He was given an extended prison term of 13 years and eight months after being told he represents a serious public danger.

Investigating officers were able to identify Rawson (shown) from the pictures taken by the ‘plucky’ teenager after she was attacked

During filming, the girl told the officer: ‘I went with him and did what he said.

‘My knees were shaking really badly. I dropped my bag and kept on walking.

‘While we were walking I asked him not to hurt me and he said he wouldn’t do anything.

‘I didn’t know what his intentions were.’

The victim then showed the officer the area where Rawson forced her to go into the bushes.

She continued: ‘That’s when I saw the handle of the knife and thought ‘I’ve got to do something now’.

‘I grabbed the knife and started pulling.

‘I managed to snatch it out of his hand and that’s when he started to back off a bit.

‘After that I ran back up from where I came.’

The youngster continued to provide a commentary of the terrifying events, adding: ‘A couple of seconds later he came back up.

‘He was standing there and asked me to give him his knife back and I said ‘no’.

‘I realised I had my phone in my right hand and quickly managed to take a picture of him.

‘He told me not to take a picture of him and started running off.’

Julian Jones, prosecuting, said Rawson was quickly identified as a suspect when officers recognised him from the images the girl had taken.

He has a previous conviction for sexually assaulting a woman after stalking her through the streets in a similar offence committed in February 2016.

Rawson denied the offences and went on to commit burglaries in the Burley area of Leeds in June and August of 2019 while on bail.

Both burglaries involved him breaking into properties in the middle of the night as victims were asleep in bed.

In the first offence he stole computer and electrical equipment worth £1,100 from a house on Hessle View.

The victim later found the stolen equipment for sale at an exchange store.

It was discovered that Rawson’s then girlfriend, Sophie Sedgwick, had sold the stolen items.

Rawson also broke into a house on Stanmore Grove as the woman who lived there was in bed.

A bank card was stolen which was used by Sedgwick to buy items at a shop.

Rawson pleaded guilty to kidnapping, unlawful wounding, committing an offence with intent to commit a sexual offence, possession of an offensive weapon and two counts of burglary.

Rawson must serve a custodial sentence of eight years and eight months, of which he must spend at least two-thirds in prison before he is eligible to apply to the parole board for release.

He must then spend a further five years on licence. 

Sentencing, The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl QC said: ‘There can be no doubt that this was a terrifying incident for her, as it was for the victim in the 2016 incident.

‘It seems to me you had clearly planned this attack, going out in the morning with a knife.

‘You knew the location where you would take her. This was not something that was done by chance, nor was it opportunistic.’

Sedgwick, who appeared in the dock beside her former partner, pleaded guilty to two offences of handling stolen goods and fraud.

The court heard Rawson was living with Sedgwick at Nutting Grove Terrace, Farnley, when he committed the offences.

Taryn Turner, mitigating for Rawson, said: ‘Nothing I say on behalf of the defendant is intended to downplay the effect that this would have had.’

Ms Turner said her client maintains that his intention was to rob the teenager of her phone to fund his use of cocaine.

The barrister added: ‘She was a plucky individual who saw him off.

‘He didn’t follow her and he left the scene. He knows a significant custodial sentence must follow.’ 

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