'I fought for my life': Teen dragged and punched by man trying to kidnap her in Somerset

Lee Shiers, 36, dragged the teen towards his car as she walked home from an evening with friends in Taunton on 18 March. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

A 16-year-old girl "fought for her life" after she was dragged and punched by a man trying to kidnap her in Somerset.

Lee Shiers, 36, dragged the teen towards his car as she walked home from an evening with friends in Taunton on 18 March.

Shiers admitted the kidnapping and was sentenced to more than five years in prison at Taunton Crown Court on Monday.

The victim, who was punched repeatedly by Shiers, managed to fight him off and run away before two members of the public who’d witnessed the attack drove after her and offered to help.

Officers were able to identify Shiers as the suspected attacker after the members of the public who came to the victim’s aid provided a description of his vehicle - a three-door Renault Megane.

Shiers was arrested two days later, but denied being responsible.

Police were able to locate CCTV footage from the area that placed him at the scene and house-to-house enquiries and forensic examinations proved his involvement.

Shiers subsequently admitted to attacking the teen to officers before later pleading guilty to kidnap in Taunton Crown Court. 

Detective Sergeant Rachel Walls said: "Incidents such as this in which a stranger targets a lone young girl are almost unheard of in Taunton.

"We worked tirelessly from the moment it was reported to us to identify Shiers as the man responsible and arrest him and to quickly gather the evidence we needed to remand him in custody and prevent him from being able to target anyone else.

"His discarded cigarette irrefutably put him at the scene and together with other evidence, including CCTV of his distinctive car, he was left with no choice but to plead guilty."

The court heard that Shiers had previous convictions for kidnap and GBH.

Jailing him for five years and four months, Recorder Richard Stead said while the motivations for the attack remained unknown, he believed Shiers had planned it.

He said Shiers had a history of violent offending towards women, and that he "posed a risk of causing harm to the public".

On his release from prison, he will remain on licence for an extended period of three years.

In the victim’s personal statement, which was read out during the hearing, she described how the incident had affected her.

"I no longer walk anywhere by myself," she said.

"I am now afraid to go out in the dark [and] the attack has made me wary around older men.

"This is something that I would never have thought would happen to me.  

"I blame myself for walking home alone, but I am thankful that this happened to me and not one of my friends, as they may not have been able to fight back in the way that I did.  

"I fought for my life on that night, and I find it hard to describe the terror that I felt during the attack. 

"I dread to think what might have happened had it been one of my friends instead."

DS Walls added: "I have been absolutely astounded by the bravery and courage of the victim in this case.

"What happened has understandably had a significant impact on her and yet she remarkably describes how she’s thankful it happened to her and not one of her friends.

"She should never feel that way and it saddens me she feels responsible. 

"The only person to blame for what happened that night is Shiers - he was the one who violently attacked her late at night and she bears no responsibility whatsoever."

Detective Chief Superintendent Rachel Shields, head of CID, said: "Everyone has the right to feel safe wherever they are and attacks like this should never happen.

"Violence against women and girls in any form, is not acceptable and tackling such offending is a priority for us."

Det Ch Supt Shields added: "I have already written to the two young men who helped the victim but I’d also like to publicly thank them.

"They turned their vehicle around after seeing the attack take place and stopped to check the victim was ok before driving her home.

"In addition, they also identified the make and model of the car Shiers drove which was crucial to officers quickly tracking him down."