Passerby praised for bravery by stopping rapist in Southport by punching him in the face

Steven Lequesne jailed for rape
Steven Lequesne was punched in the face as he tried to assault the woman. Credit: Merseyside Police.

A Crown Court judge has praised a passerby for stopping a rape in Southport by putting the perpetrator in a chokehold and punching him.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Steven Lequesne, 23, had "preyed" on a lone vulnerable woman who had been on a night out in the town.

But Christopher Fletcher, who was passing by, heard the woman screaming "no" and punched Lequesne.

Robert Wyn Jones, prosecuting, said the victim had been drinking at the Metropole Hotel in Portland Street earlier that night.The woman and Lequesne spent some time there together after the pub shut, before walking through Southport railway station after 1am.Mr Wyn Jones said the woman had been drunk. He played a CCTV clip in court that showed an "altercation" between the pair which resulted in the woman trying to get away.Mr Wyn Jones said: "She runs off to the left and he pursues her."The prosecutor said during a coming together "she is fighting him off and is pulled backwards to the ground".She got up and CCTV cameras captured Lequesne attacking her in the bushes of a car park.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.The judge told Lequesne: "It's plain to see you had seized this opportunity when she was alone and vulnerable to prey on her."This was a brutal and terrifying attack on a defenceless woman, in order for you to satisfy your desire for sexual gratification, which I have no doubt will cast a shadow across the rest of her life."

Steven Lequesne was sentenced to 10-and-a-half years in jail with an extended four-and-a-half years on licence.The judge said he would now put Mr Fletcher forward for formal recognition.