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Former pastor jailed for 'vicious' Brighton street attack

Stephen Jay attacked the woman in Brighton Credit: Sussex Police

A man's been jailed for two years for a 'vicious' night time street attack on a woman in Brighton.

58 year old Stephen Jay of Wrights Lane, Kesgrave, Ipswich attacked the 26 year old woman who was walking home after a night out in Brighton.

She was walking up Gerard Street near the city centre when she became aware of a man ducking behind cars as if trying to hide.

She confronted him and asked why he was following her.

She crossed Gerard Street onto the nearside pavement and was walking towards Ditchling Rise.

Jay then hit her in the face several times. A witness saw the attacker’s hand around her throat and another over her mouth as he straddled her whilst on the ground.

Concerned neighbours heard the screams and came to her aid.

Neighbours gathered up her belongings that had fallen from her bag during the unprovoked attack.

A couple of days later the victim went to her bag and found that it contained a baseball cap that did not belong to her.

This was sent off for analysis and found to have DNA from Stephen Jay within it.

Jay had been convicted of the attack in May at Lewes Crown Court, but the jury was hung on whether this assault was with intent to commit a sexual act.

After a retrial on the sexual element of the case at Brighton Crown Court in July a second jury was also unable to agree a verdict.

At his first trial in May, Jay had also been found not guilty of causing actual bodily harm and sexual assaulting a 21-year old woman walking in Hanover Terrace, Brighton on September 1st.

Stephen Jay is a former town pastor from Ipswich who was training to be a life coach to provide help to those who need it including the vulnerable. His work as a town pastor meant that he used to work during evenings in the city centre of Ipswich proving support for those often found vulnerable through drink and drugs. He was also a prominent member of his local church."

"Far from protecting the vulnerable, this investigation has shown him to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing; someone who targeted a lone woman walking home in the early hours of the morning and violently assaulted her in an unprovoked attack. Jay admitted that during that evening leading up to the attack and the early hours of the morning immediately afterwards, he was having a sexual conversation with another woman who he was having an online affair with, discussing his liking for bondage, domination and sado-masochism. After the assault, he admitted masturbating in his car in a public place."

"I would urge anyone, no matter where they are from or how long ago the offence occurred, if they believe they are the victim of an assault, sexual or otherwise, to report it to police on 101. Your call will be handled sensitively and confidentially."

– Detective Inspector Mick Jones