Man jailed for punching and headbutting woman in St Leonards street

A man who assaulted a woman while walking down a street in St Leonards has been jailed, police have confirmed.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 1:23 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 1:35 pm

John Larkin, 33, unemployed, of no fixed address, was seen by members of the public to grab, punch and headbutt a woman he was walking with in Marline Avenue, around 6.30pm on August 31, 2019, police said.

A police spokesman said the couple were initially seen by a member of the public who was driving along Marline Road, and who slowed down as they thought the pair were going to cross the road at a zebra crossing. On slowing down, the driver could see that the victim had been crying.

The witness then said they saw the defendant grab the victim from behind in a type of headlock. The driver rang the police and turned their car around so they could continue to witness the incident and report back to officers.

John Larkin. Picture supplied by Sussex Police

Larkin was then seen grabbing the woman around the throat, according to police, trying to drag her to the ground, and shouting at her. The victim, who witnesses described as being clearly upset, kept trying to get away from him but he continued to follow and grab at her face, police added.

Other members of the public began to intervene, trying to help the victim. One woman tried to stand in Larkin’s way but he appeared to push her aside too, police said.

The victim finally managed to get across the road and Larkin, after shouting at her and the members of the public with her, then walked off into Quebec Road.

Police said a second witness came forward and reported seeing Larkin headbutt the victim, causing her to fall backwards into a bush, and then punch at her and follow her across the road when she tried to escape from him.

Four other witnesses called police about the incident, including an off-duty police officer who identified the defendant after he had been pointed out by witnesses at the scene.

Crime investigator Julie Maley said: “This offence was committed in the early evening in the full view of members of the public.

“The victim was unwilling to substantiate any allegation against Larkin, however it was clear from other witnesses that she was visibly upset by the assault on the day. She needed safeguarding whether she accepted this or not.

“Sussex Police always takes the safeguarding of vulnerable victims seriously, as this case shows.”

At Brighton Magistrates’ Court on January 27, Larkin was sentenced to 26 weeks’ imprisonment for the offence of assault by beating. He was also sentenced to two weeks’ imprisonment to run concurrently, for failing to attend his court hearing with regards to this charge, police said.

A police spokesman added: “Magistrates considered the offence so serious because of the repeated and sustained nature of the assault that involved headbutting and grabbing the victim’s throat.

“Larkin also breached a Criminal Behaviour Order by carrying unprotected needles in a public place, and committed a further offence while subject to a conditional discharge order for a period of 12 months, imposed on November 28, 2019 at Hastings Magistrates’ Court, for an offence of theft. Magistrates ordered that the Criminal Behaviour Order was to continue.”