Teen who carried out sex attack on Ione Wells sentenced to two years in detention

Ione Wells

Ione Wells - Credit: Archant

The teenager behind a violent sexual attack on an Oxford University student has been given a two-year detention order.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded guilty to sexual assault, having attacked English student Ione Wells as she walked to her home in Primrose Hill on April 11.

Today, her attacker was sentenced at Highbury Magistrates Court. He was given a 24 month detention order, half of which he will serve in custody. He has also been ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for five years.

Ms Wells, 20, had waived her right to anonymity and penned an open letter to her assailant just over a week ago as part of a campaign - called #NotGuilty - to end the culture of blame in attacks on women.

The 800-word message went viral and saw her receive messages of support from across the world.

The letter included the events of that night, which saw her followed home from Chalk Farm tube station and then subject to a two minute violent attack near her home in Primrose Hill.

Her teen attacker put his hand over her mouth – “until I could not breathe” – and she was violently pushed to the ground.

The English student was then dragged by her hair, had her face smashed into the pavement, and was kicked repeatedly in the head to stop her screaming.

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As her assailant shouted in her ear to “shut up”, her desperate pleas resonated through the leafy residential street and the attack was interrupted by neighbours. He then ran off.

Today, she was not present at the court to see her attacker sentenced but had a statement read out on her behalf.

She described the psychological harm she has suffered, including anxiety attacks, insomnia and recurring flashbacks.

Her statement said: “I can’t close my eyes without hearing my attacker’s footsteps behind me.

“He knows the area where my neighbours and I live and I am anxious that he will come back to get me.

“I feel insecure about myself. I can’t look at my own body without thinking how my attacker hit me so hard that I bled.

“My body feels tainted and violated by a stranger who thought he had the right to violate my body.

“I panic about how long this will last.”

She added that a lot of her anxiety comes from thinking about what could have happened if the attack had not been stopped, including whether she would have been raped or fatally injured.

The student, who is preparing for exams, added that her attacker has “robbed me of an important time in my academic career that I have worked years to get and I will never get back”.

The court heard how the guilty teen was from a large family with limited means, He had no previous convictions or cautions and was not known to the police. His father was present, along with his interpreter.

Despite weeks away from his 18th birthday, the boy’s defence lawyer, Ms James, described him as “emotionally and sexually immature”.

She said: “Unfortunately, he is unable to provide an explanation [for the attack]. It appears to be something he did not think about, that was not premeditated. It’s something that he deeply regrets now.”

She said when the teenager was asked about how he thought the attack had made victim Ione Wells feel, he replied simply: “Bad, not good.”

He gave the same reply, the court heard, when asked how he felt himself.

His parents were said by Ms James to be “disappointed and upset”, but “supportive”.

The judge, Gillian Alison, said if the teenager was an adult he would have been jailed for 32 months.

The boy spoke only to confirm his name and address during the entire hearing, and when taken away from his father he made no reaction.

Gerallt Evans, the Crown Prosecution Service’s deputy chief prosecutor for London, said: “Ione has shown real courage throughout this case - this was a terrifying attack which no-one should have to experience.

“I want to let victims know that we will do all we can to support them through the prosecution process.

“This includes the use of special measures such as giving evidence behind a screen and by giving victims the opportunity to tell the court about the impact of the crime through the use of victim personal statements.”