July 2023

Masked pervert attacked two women

A masked sex attacker has been jailed for sexually assaulting two women in a Devon town.

Nicholas Ashby, 41, admitted ambushing two strangers as they walked back from the same Barnstaple nightclub exactly a week apart, in 2022.

Ashby, of Sowden Park in the town, previously admitted sexual assault and attempted rape.

He was sentenced an extended sentence of 11 years and four months at Exeter Crown Court on Monday.One of the victims told the BBC the incident had been a “very big shock” and has

had a “massive impact on her whole life”.

Ashby’s sentence was made up of two years four months for the sexual assault, and a consecutive term of five years seven months for the attempted rape, with a three year and five month extended licence period.

The court heard he strangled the first victim, an 18-year-old, until she passed out and then sexually assaulted her, on Bear Street on 25 September.

He followed the second victim, a young mother, into a lane on Beaufort Walk where he pulled a knife and started to remove her clothes on 2 October.

She suffered cuts to her body and hands as she fought him off.

The victim told the BBC she was walking home after losing her friends on a night out and her mobile phone battery had died.

She said: “It’s had a massive impact on my whole life actually and my children.

“I’m on my third job since this happened, I’ve also had lots of medication changes… He is disgusting and he doesn’t deserve to be walking on the streets.”

She added that she would urge any other victims of sexual assaults to come forward to the police.

“I would say do it, because there is support out there and they can help you,” she said.

Judge David Evans told Ashby: “I have read in full the victim personal statements and it is quite clear that you have caused each of them very real trauma.

“This is the sort of thing which doesn’t go away any time soon.”

He added: “You clearly pose a significant risk to women of serious harm – I emphasis the fact that a week after the first offence you intention was to take things further still.”