A Rochester man who carried out a predatory sexual attack on a lone teenage woman in the early hours of the morning has been convicted by a jury and locked up.
Steven Kinsella, 38, denied he followed the woman and then assaulted her as she walked to a party following a night out in Rochester on 20th September last year.
However, a jury at Maidstone Crown Court found him guilty of sexual assault and he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment with an extended licence period of two years. He will also register as a sex offender for life.
The jury heard the 18-year-old woman had been on a night out with friends in the city centre before leaving them at about 2am to go to a party at a nearby address.
She began making her way along Crow Lane in the direction of Maidstone Road when she felt she was being followed by a man pushing a bike.
As she walked on, he got closer to her and asked if she was having a good night and whether she had a boyfriend. The victim was texting a friend at the time, saying she felt she was being followed.
Just as she made her way along Maidstone Road, Kinsella grabbed her from behind and pulled her backwards, before pushing her to the floor.
He pinned her to the ground with his hand round her throat before sexually assaulting her. He then got on his bike and left the area.
The victim got up and ran into some friends nearby.
Detectives investigating the report trawled CCTV and saw Kinsella sitting on a nearby park bench before the attack and then follow the victim as she walked towards Maidstone Road.
A witness came forward and positively identified him in an ID procedure.
Kinsella denied he committed the offence during a police interview and refused to admit he was the man captured on CCTV.
"I cannot begin to comprehend what the victim went through and the impact this will undoubtedly have had on her. Kinsella had been hanging around the area and it is clear he targeted and followed this lone woman with the intent on causing her harm. Kinsella is no doubt a danger to the public and the community can rest assured he will be behind bars for a significant period of time. While he still refused to admit what is a truly abhorrent crime, we were able to put together a comprehensive case using all tools available to us and I am pleased it was enough for a jury to convict him. I also welcome the sentence, which ensures he will be off the streets for a number of years and no longer poses a threat to the community."
Police are appealing for information about the whereabouts of a 13-year-old girl from Hertfordshire who's believed to be with a 17-year-old from Kent.
Melanie Abbott was last seen on February 19 in Hertford.
It's thought she may have travelled to Kent and could be with Jonathan Culwick from Rochester.
Melanie is described as white, 5ft7ins tall and of a medium build.
Whilst Melanie’s family have had some contact with Melanie we need to trace her and Jonathan as soon as possible.
We believe that Melanie and Jonathan maybe using trains around the London and North Kent area.
Rochester Airport is set to expand thanks to a £4.4 million funding boost which will create hundreds of jobs.
The money will be used to create new innovation space at the airport and is part of a £46.1million package announced under the South East Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal.
A planning application to remove one of the two grass runways and to construct a new hard-surfaced runway is currently being considered by Medway Council’s planning committee.
The airport was built in 1933 and is owned by Medway Council.
“We are delighted funding has been announced for the airport and this will help secure its long-term future.
“The money will be used to create new space which will in turn create new jobs in the area.
“It will help establish Rochester Airport as an economic location of real significance.”
The Very Reverend Dr Mark Beach has resigned voluntarily from his post as Dean of Rochester Cathedral.
He is taking on a new role outside ordained ministry, and has been appointed to the post of Director of the Blackfriars Settlement.
He will be leaving the Cathedral with immediate effect.
I am also able to announce today that the Reverend Canon Philip Hesketh has accepted my invitation to take on the role of Acting Dean, and I ask your prayers for him and for all who share with him in leadership at Rochester Cathedral.
Today was forecast to be the busiest shopping day of the year on Britain's high streets, but with internet shopping on the rise and out-of-town shopping centres attracting people - how are independent retailers coping? Sarah Saunders went to Rochester High Street to find out. She spoke to retailers Megan Medhurst, Sue Marsh and Jason Hunt.
Two Rochester burglars have been jailed for a combined total of almost six years after officers found them hiding in bushes.
Peter Hemsworth, 23, has been sent to prison for two years and six months after he was found guilty of burglary.
Daniel Arnold, 29, was also convicted and received a jail sentence of three years and four months on the same day.
The pair broke into a property in Frobisher Gardens on April 6 while the owner was away on holiday and stole around £500.
Ukip's Mark Reckless is under fire today after suggesting EU migrants who'd lived in UK for a long time would be considered sympathetically. Others might only be allowed to stay for a "transitional period". He appeared on Meridian's hustings programme.
Ukip's Mark Reckless is under fire today after suggesting that EU migrants who had lived in the UK for a long time would be considered sympathetically. Others, he said, might only be allowed to stay for a "transitional period".
Meridian had invited four of the candidates to a special hustings at the University of Kent in Medway.
It was one of the last opportunities for the residents of Rochester and Strood to quiz them before polling day.
A piece of artwork created by prisoners at HMP Lewes has been put up in Rochester Cathedral.
The structure, which is a depiction of a scene from a prison, was installed ahead of a special Prisons Week Service held this afternoon.
Rt Rev James Langstaff, the Bishop of Rochester, explains what the service and the artwork are meant to reflect:
The Conservative candidate for the upcoming by-election in Rochester and Strood has been announced.
Medway councillor Kelly Tolhurst has been crowned the winner in the two-way vote with Anna Firth for nomination. She may face an uphill battle though, as a poll commissioned by UKIP today gave Nigel Farage's party a 13 point lead over the Conservatives.
The Conservatives are desperate to avoid another seat falling to Ukip in a by-election triggered by Tory defector Mark Reckless's decision to stand down and run as a Ukip candidate.
Following the announcement of the result, Ms Tolhurst said: "I'm honoured that thousands of local people have voted to select me as the Conservative candidate for the upcoming by-election. I will be a strong local voice, standing up for Rochester and Strood - my home."
The chairman of the Rochester and Strood Conservatives, Andrew Mackness, said: "Kelly will make a great MP for our great constituency, and I look forward to supporting her in the coming weeks to ensure a Conservative win and a bright future for this area."