January 2008

Sex offender faces jail for attack on schoolgirl

A convicted sex offender who groped a 16-year-old schoolgirl on the seafront has been warned he faces a jail sentence.

Darren Hellowell, 29, fondled the teenager on the beach next to Eastbourne Pier after asking her for a cigarette lighter.

Lewes Crown Court heard how the stranger groped the girl and then made suggestive comments to her.

Friends of the girl ordered the pervert to leave but he carried on the drunken attack.

Police nearby arrested Hellowell who told police in interview he had little memory of the assault.

In a Victim Impact Statement, the girl told officers: “When he first approached me he made me feel on edge as I didn’t know him.

“When he went to touch my legs I felt scared and afterwards I felt shocked and upset by the incident.”

Prosecutor Simon Allen told the court the attack happened at about 11.30pm on September 1 last year.

He said: “A 16-year-old girl was enjoying an evening out with some friends in Eastbourne. Firstly they were at the Western Lawns, at about 8.30pm.

“Later on, at about 11.30pm, they moved towards the Pier and were sat on the beach. The defendant comes over and initially says, ‘Have you got a lighter?’ “The victim said she had not then the defendant put his right hand on her left leg just above her knee and slid his hands up.

“She was sitting with her knees up and moved her legs, saying, ‘Get off me’. She was shocked and felt scared. Her friends saw what happened and told him to clear off.”

Mr Allen said Hellowell then leant forward and put his hand in the same place.

She then pushed him away but he was sexually suggestive towards her.

Mr Allen went on: “She replied, ‘Don’t even look at me’.

“Police must have been nearby because his arrest happened within a few minutes.”

The court heard that Hellowell was put on the Sex Offenders Register for five years in 2005 for grabbing the private parts of a woman in Kent.

But he failed to notify police of his whereabouts within three days of being released from custody.

Hellowell, of no fixed abode, admitted sexual assault and failing to comply with the requirements of the Sex Offenders Register.