Victim hits out at sentence given to mask sex attacker

EVIDENCE A mask used by Robert Rouse in an attack on a Faye Harris in Fareham.
EVIDENCE A mask used by Robert Rouse in an attack on a Faye Harris in Fareham.

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A VICTIM of a terrifying attempted sex assault has said her attacker’s sentence is not tough enough.

Robert Rouse, 24, of Wykeham Field, Wickham, appeared at Winchester Crown Court yesterday to be sentenced.

He jumped out from bushes as 38-year-old Faye Harris was walking home alone along a footpath in Fareham Creek on November 28.

Rouse pulled the mum-of-two into the bushes and tried to stab her, and she kicked out at him and ripped the mask off his face.

Yesterday Rouse was given an indefinite hospital order, but Faye says she is angry that the man who put her through such a horrific attack has not been sent to prison – and says the experience means she is scared to face Halloween.

This mask was similar to a hockey mask worn by Jason in the Friday 13th films and was a vital piece of evidence as it had Rouse’s DNA on it.

Rouse, a night worker at Wilkinson, had denied the charges and span a web of elaborate stories as to why his DNA was on the mask, and on a pair of gloves found nearby.

He was found guilty by jury at a three-day trial at Portsmouth Crown Court in June of assault occasioning actual bodily harm with the intent of committing a sexual offence and a separate offence of possessing a knife.

Faye, who waived her legal right to anonymity in order to speak to The News, went to court to see Rouse sentenced.

She said: ‘I thought I was going there for a sentence but I didn’t get it.

‘They have put him in a hospital. I understand that he has got a mental condition but if you do the crime then you should pay the time. It’s as simple as that. I wanted him to sit in a cell to reflect on what he has done.’

Judge Sarah Munro QC sent Rouse to a medium-security hospital indefinitely.

Rouse’s mild learning disability was taken into consideration as was the fact that in 2003 he had been found guilty of indecent assault and two counts of battery for three occasions of attacking women in a similar way.

Judge Munro said: ‘It must have been a terrifying ordeal for the victim. It has had a huge impact on her life.’

Faye’s partner Matt Nicklin said: ‘We both went there expecting him to go down.

‘Someone needs to sit down and explain the full logistics of his sentence. We left there, Faye was in tears, it wasn’t as clear cut as we thought it would be.’

He added: ‘Faye still wakes up with nightmares, it’s had a massive impact.’

Faye said she is afraid of Halloween and she is still suffering from panic attacks.

She said: ‘Wilkinson is selling the same masks. It is in my home town. I feel like it’s everywhere. I’ve learned to avoid it but I walked around the corner the other day and a mum and son were playing with the masks. It floored me. I had to go home. Halloween is an awful time, and it’s coming up to the first anniversary.

‘It’s not even a gruesome mask, it’s a clinical mask.’

She added: ‘This isn’t closure.’