August 2023

Brighton man jailed for city centre sexual assaults

A Brighton man who sexually assaulted six women in public spaces in Brighton has been given a thirteen year sentence.

Hanok Zeray, 32, of Ringmer Road in Brighton, targeted lone women around Brighton city centre on multiple occasions in 2022.

An investigation was launched after a woman reported being raped in the Old Steine in Brighton on 16 April. She was supported by specialist officers and Hanok Zeray was arrested the following day on suspicion of rape.

He was released under investigation while evidence was collected to pursue a charge.

On Sunday, 22 May, two women reported being sexually assaulted in London Road and Southover Street in the early hours of the morning.

The Southover Street victim was chased by a stranger – later identified as Zeray – but managed to escape by locking herself in her flat.

Enquiries were underway to identify a suspect when, on 23 October, a third woman reported being sexually assaulted by a stranger in Elm Grove.

He harassed her persistently, but she was able to film him on her mobile phone and capture the sexual assault on film.

Officers identified Zeray from the footage and he was arrested shortly after.

He was charged with rape and three counts of sexual assault and remanded in custody.

While remanded, Zeray was charged with three additional counts of sexual assault after three more women came forward to report being attacked.

One on the 22 May in London Road, one in Gladstone Place on 19 June and a third on 23 October – five minutes before Zeray was filmed assaulting the woman in Elm Grove.

At Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 24 February, Zeray pleaded guilty to all six counts of sexual assault and not guilty to rape. The rape charge was later discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service.

At Lewes Crown Court on Friday, 21 July, Zeray was sentenced to eight years and three months in prison, with an extended licence period of five years.