A man who admitted kidnapping a teenage girl has been jailed for more than five years.
Lee Shiers, 36, dragged a 16-year-old girl towards his car as she walked home from an evening with friends in Taunton.
The victim, who was punched repeatedly by Shiers, managed to fight him off and run away before two members of the public who’d witnessed the incident drove after her and offered her help.
The incident happened on Friday 18 March.
Detectives quickly identified Shiers as the possible offender after the members of the public who came to the victim’s aid provided a description of his distinctive vehicle – a three-door Renault Megane.
He was arrested two days after the incident but denied being responsible.
However, a thorough investigation which included a comprehensive review of CCTV from the area, house to house enquiries and forensic examinations proved his involvement.
He subsequently admitted attacking the girl to officers before later pleading guilty to kidnap at court.
Detective Sergeant Rachel Walls said: “Incidents such as this in which a stranger targets a lone young girl are almost unheard of in Taunton.
“We worked tirelessly from the moment it was reported to us to identify Shiers as the man responsible and arrest him and to quickly gather the evidence we needed to remand him in custody and prevent him from being able to target anyone else.
“His discarded cigarette irrefutably put him at the scene and together with other evidence, including CCTV of his distinctive car, he was left with no choice but to plead guilty.”
Shiers, who the court heard had previous convictions for kidnap and GBH, was sentenced at Taunton Crown Court today (Monday 21 November).
Jailing him for five years and three months, Recorder Richard Stead said while the motivations for the attack remained unknown, he believed Shiers had planned it.
He said Shiers had a history of violent offending towards women and he “posed a risk of causing harm to the public”.
On his release from prison, he will remain on licence for an extended period of three years.
In the victim’s personal statement which was read out during the hearing, she described how the incident had affected her.
“Since the incident I no longer walk anywhere by myself,” she said.
“I am now afraid to go out in the dark [and] the attack has made me wary around older men.”
She also said: “This is something that I would never have thought would happen to me.
“I blame myself for walking home alone, but I am thankful that this happened to me and not one of my friends as they may not have been able to fight back in the way that I did.
“I fought for my life on that night, and I find it hard to describe the terror that I felt during the attack.
“I dread to think what might have happened had it been one of my friends instead.”
DS Walls added: “I have been absolutely astounded by the bravery and courage of the victim in this case.
“What happened has understandably had a significant impact on her and yet she remarkably describes how she’s thankful it happened to her and not one of her friends.
“She should never feel that way and it saddens me she feels responsible.
“The only person to blame for what happened that night is Shiers – he was the one who violently attacked her late at night and she bears no responsibility whatsoever.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Rachel Shields, head of CID, said: “Everyone has the right to feel safe wherever they are and attacks like this should never happen.
“Violence against women and girls in any form, is not acceptable and tackling such offending is a priority for us.”
Det Ch Supt Shields added: “I have already written to the two young men who helped the victim but I’d also like to publicly thank them.
“They turned their vehicle around after seeing the attack take place and stopped to check the victim was ok before driving her home.
“In addition, they also identified the make and model of the car Shiers drove which was crucial to officers quickly tracking him down.”
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