Hero put predatory rapist in chokehold after saving drunk woman from brutal attack

Christopher Fletcher rushed to the victim’s aid after hearing her screaming “no”, Liverpool Crown Court heard. The lone and vulnerable woman had been “preyed” upon by Steven Lequesne during a night out in Southport, Merseyside, this summer.

Mr Fletcher stopped the “brutal and terrifying attack” by punching and kicking the 23-year-old before police officers arrested him.

Lequesne, of no fixed address but formerly of Tuebrook, was jailed for 10 and a half years, with an extended four and a half years on licence yesterday after admitting rape.

Recorder Matthew Corbett-Jones said: “It was only when a brave member of the public came to her rescue that her ordeal came to an end.

“Christopher Fletcher showed all the qualities of a brave, decent, upstanding member of the community in tackling you and summoning the police.

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“Your actions that night show to me you are the opportunistic and highly predatory individual that you clearly are.”

Robert Wyn Jones, prosecuting, said the victim had been drinking at the Metropole Hotel in Portland Street earlier that night, the Liverpool Echo reported.

The woman and Lequesne spent some time there together after the pub shut, before walking through Southport train station after 1am.

Mr Wyn Jones said: “She is clearly drunk. She doesn’t have any shoes on and she is stumbling.”

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He played a CCTV clip in court that showed an “altercation” between them and her trying to get away.

The prosecutor said: “She runs off to the left and he pursues her.”

He said during a coming together “she is fighting him off and is pulled backwards to the ground”.

She got up and Napthens Solicitors’ CCTV cameras captured him attacking her in the bushes of a car park.

She pushed him away, but fell, as “she lay on the ground, kicking out at him”.

Mr Wyn Jones said Mr Fletcher walked past, saw Lequesne raping the woman while she was screaming “no”, so pulled Lequesne away.

The prosecutor said: “Mr Fletcher takes hold of the defendant around the neck in a chokehold.”

He said the witness took Lequesne to the ground before he called the police and held him until officers arrived.

Police found the victim “extremely distressed” nearby.

Lequesne denied rape when interviewed, but was linked to the attack by DNA evidence and later admitted the charge.

Mr Wyn Jones said the victim is now afraid to go outside and is “constantly looking over her shoulder”.

The woman went back to work but broke down and has not gone back since, so is now on Universal Credit.

Lequesne has 15 previous convictions for 21 offences, including harassment in 2018 and two offences of outraging public decency in 2020.

Nicola Daley, defending, said he had mental health issues and urged the court not to pass an extended jail sentence.

Ms Daley said he was repeatedly detained under the Mental Health Act up until 2020 and “has made a series of attempts to take his own life”.

Recorder Corbett-Jones found Lequesne was “dangerous” and there was “no evidence” his mental health played any part in the attack.

This type of sentence means Lequesne must serve at least two-thirds of the custodial term – seven years – behind bars.

He will only be released before the end of the sentence if the Parole Board no longer considers him to be a risk.

Lequesne must also sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

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