Hebden Bridge sex attacker trapped by quick-thinking victim

Bradford Crown Court
Bradford Crown Court

A sex attacker has been jailed for two years after his quick-thinking victim saved a sample of her saliva for DNA testing.

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was grabbed from behind by 22-year-old Gareth Robertshaw as she took her dog for an early morning walk in Mytholmroyd.

Robertshaw, who was on his way home after a night out in Halifax, put his hand over the woman’s mouth and pulled her onto the ground before deliberately touching her private parts between her legs.

Bradford Crown Court heard today (Monday) how the labourer sexually assaulted the woman over her trousers as she screamed for help.

Robertshaw then ran off, but prosecutor Stephen Wood said when the woman got home she had the presence of mind to spit into a container.

“From that saliva the police were able to identify the defendant’s DNA,” said Mr Wood.

“Had she not done that the overwhelming likelihood is this defendant would not have been apprehended.”

Robertshaw, who had no previous convictions, carried out the attack at about 6am on May 3 this year and Mr Wood described the incident as “a nightmare scenario for any lone woman”.

After his arrest two days later Robertshaw, of Cleveley Gardens, Hebden Bridge, claimed that he had intended to rob the woman and he had been trying to put his hand in her trouser pocket.

Robertshaw was due to stand trial on the sexual assault charge, but today/yesterday he decided to plead guilty to the offence.

Barrister Abdul Shakoor, for Robertshaw, said the defendant had written letters of apology to the complainant which would be passed on to the prosecution.

He said Robertshaw had been out drinking that night with friends and his client had described the offence as “the biggest mistake of his life”.

Jailing Robertshaw Judge David Hatton QC noted that the attack had caused the woman understandable emotional distress.

Judge Hatton accepted that Robertshaw’s remorse was genuine and that the offebce was out of character.

Robertshaw was banned indefinitely from having any contact with the complainant in the future and he will have to register as a sex offender with the police for the next ten years.