Brave Preston witness whose actions helped to stop rapist Connor Fearon is commended by judge

A "public spirited" man who called 999 when he heard a vulnerable woman screaming during a sexual attack will be rewarded with £200, a judge has ruled.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 3:45 pm

Mechanic Connor Fearon brutally attacked the woman in Catterall - including using a rope around her neck - on December 19, 2020, while "frustrated, angry, and intoxicated."

She was found "injured, muddied and terrified" by police after quick witted neighbour Richard Brown heard her and quickly called for help.

The terrified woman had begged for mercy and desperately tried to distract him by showing him a picture on her phone of her child and offering all the possessions in her handbag.

Connor Fearon

Fearon, who admitted rape, sexual assault by penetration and choke, suffocate or strangling with intent to commit an offence, later told a psychiatrist and probation officer that he had viewed pornography which "involved that sort of thing" and fantasised about it.

Sentencing Fearon on Thursday, Judge Simon Medland QC said: "You decided to withdraw £180 of your dwindling money and call for the arrival of a female sex worker.

"She arrived by taxi near to where you lived. It was dark and cold. She was alone. You persuaded her to walk with you to where you said your caravan was and then suddenly turned on

her, exhibiting almost wild violence, taking her bag and rifling through it. You had made available to you for use as a sex aid, and as a weapon to subdue her, a rope.

"You put it around her neck whilst pushing her to the ground and then, as she begged for mercy on her knees in the mud you told her to shut up, strangled her with your hands and slapped her to silence her screams for help.

"You told her she deserved this treatment because of the job she did and that she deserved to die, telling her that you were going to kill her.

"Fortunately you had not managed to silence her. Her screams were heard and a neighbour called the police.

"It was the public-spirited actions of the witness Richard James Brown which led, through his 999 call, to the arrival of the police and the escape of the victim.

"Regrettably not everyone is so public spirited and active these days. In my judgment, Mr Brown merits commendation and an award paid out of central funds under the powers given to this court by the Criminal Law Act, 1826. "

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Ina victim impact statement the woman said his crimes had altered the way she has to live so that she can cope, and that she had moved from the area because of them.

Judge Medland added: "She remarks that there is not a day goes by but she has you and what you did to her on her mind."

The court heard months earlier he had committed criminal offences against another woman, slashing her bedding upstairs with a knife and spitting on her pillows.

He was on bail when he committed the rape.

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