'Horrific' attacker who repeatedly raped and battered woman with rock over head found guilty - Regional

Luke Smith''Credit: Sussex Police
Luke Smith''Credit: Sussex Police
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A MAN who repeatedly attacked and raped a young woman he met after a night out drinking – including battering her over the head with a rock – has been found guilty by a jury.

Labourer Luke Smith, 27, of no fixed address, was convicted at Hove Crown Court today after a five-day trial following the attack in Hastings Old Town in 2018.

Smith, who had been drinking on his own in Hastings town centre, approached the 19-year-old woman as she was on her way home after a night out in the early hours of Saturday December 15, last year.

He subjected her to repeated vicious rapes – including constantly battering her – after taking her to a secluded part of West Hill near to the West Hill cafe.

The victim managed to escape only after Smith eventually became distracted looking for his mobile phone.

Detective Inspector Ben Newman from the Hastings Safeguarding Investigations Unit said: ‘We were told about this horrific attack early that morning and immediate enquiries identified the scene. Here our CSI team found a hoody cord which was sent for forensic analysis to a laboratory. Luke Smith's DNA was found on the cord and also our victim’s blood.

‘As a result we were able to quickly arrest Smith and during a search of his bedroom, we found a t-shirt, hoody jacket (minus cord) and jeans. Each item had the victim’s blood on.

‘In addition, Smith’s DNA was found on the victims bra. We also found Smith’s blood and the victims DNA on a sandstone rock close to the scene. Following consultation with our colleagues at CPS, Smith was subsequently charged and remanded into custody five days later. I am so pleased that justice has been served for this brave young woman and that Smith has been taken off the streets.

Detective Sergeant Steve Shimmons of the East Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit said: ‘This is the most violent rape that I have ever investigated. Smith initially lied to us about his involvement in this matter. His account changed over time and he tried to suggest in court that he had consensual sex with the victim and did not attack her. The jury in this case saw through his lies and have rightly now convicted him of this terrible offence.

‘I want to commend the courage of the victim in supporting our investigation and giving evidence in person at the trial, with specialist support measures and help through the Independent Sexual Violence Advisory service.

‘Stranger attacks of this type are very rare. We always carry out swift and thorough investigations of all reported sexual assaults and we are glad that justice has now been done for this young woman.’

He was remanded in custody for reports, prior to sentencing on July 12.