Luke Sargent was convicted after a short trial In October 2022 at Birmingham Crown Court for an offence which took place in the early hours of 8th June 2022. He had been observed in a pub frequented by students, acting in a way that gave female staff the creeps and after closing time was recorded on CCTV following young women in the direction of two nearby properties where he was involved in renovations. The final woman fell into his trap as she was alone as she passed the door into which she was dragged. A neighbouring doorbell captured the sound of the start of a struggle and his spine-chilling words, “No noise at all, or I slit your fucking throat.” She was then subjected to an hour-long sexual ordeal inside the building, during which she was able to memorise his facial and physical appearance and took steps to gather fingerprint evidence from him. Despite his finding out her address and threatening not only her, but also her friends if she went out to the police, she made a report in person at her local police station later that morning, carrying with her a bag containing the clothing she had been wearing and a toothbrush she had since used. She gave remarkably clear evidence, making nonsense of the defence that what had happened had been consensual and part of sexual role-play.
Andrew Wilkins prosecuted every hearing of Luke Sargent’s case in the Crown Court, from the first hearing when he pleaded not guilty on 8th July 2022 to his sentencing hearing on 29th November 2022. He was able to advise the CPS and police on evidence and in particular the best way to adduce the extensive CCTV footage that had been gathered. He ensured that the jury were made aware of Mr Sargent’s previous conviction, stressing how striking it was that 9 years earlier he had raped a younger teenager in an alleyway and threatened her in similar terms. His cross-examination of Mr Sargent and speeches to the jury helped them to reach unanimous conclusions of guilt on the 4 charges in under an hour of deliberation. His structured assistance to the judge clarified the complicated law, making clear why a life sentence (rather than the 7 years proposed by the defence) was required in this case.
He is honoured to have met the young lady who gave evidence so bravely in this case and grateful to have met some of her friends and family. Although there is no suggestion that she is to blame in any way, and she was rightly praised by the judge for the steps she took to prevent harm to others and her conduct throughout, she is entitled by law to lifelong anonymity.
The case was reported in various media, including the Birmingham Mail, Daily Mail, Express, The Tab, BBC and ITV.
Andrew said, “Although many aspects of the case were very troubling, it was a privilege to have been involved in a case which shows that the English criminal justice system can still function efficiently and produce a just result in a reasonable time. However, it does put into sharp relief the delays in other cases. My next 2 rape trials involved cases which had both taken over 30 months to come to trial from the time of charge and in each there had been police investigation for over 18 months before that.”