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‘I was really struggling, and trying to get him off me’

The young mum waS walking In Herne Bay’s Memorial Park
The young mum was walking in Herne Bay’s Memorial Park

Court hears young mum describe how she fought off sex attacker

A young mum has told how she desperately fought off a late-night sex attack by a man in Herne Bay’s Memorial Park. The woman, who is 25 and cannot be named for legal reasons, described how the man pushed her to the ground and pulled down her leggings and underwear. In the struggle she was sleshed as many as 12 times, suffering deep cuts to her body and bruising to her face. A video of her police interview was shown to a jury at Canterbury Crown Court this week, where 49-year-old Alan Cornelius denied attempted rape and wounding at the start of his trial on Tuesday. In it she said:

“I was really struggling and trying to get him off me. He pushed me to the floor and held me down. I was hitting him and screaming please don’t and he said ‘take it’. I kept booting and booting and booting him. He pulled down my leggings and underwear but I grabbed them and held on. I think that’s when I got cut.”

The victim said she did not see her attacker’s face, but added:

“He had a really dirty deep voice. It was creepy, deep and croaky.”

She told the jury that the man hit her in the face.

“I think I had so many injuries because I was fighting back,” she said. “I don’t know if he had a knife or glass. When he pulled down my underwear I freaked out. I kept booting him and then he just went.”

The woman said one of her arms was slashed 10 to 12 times and she had a 10-inch cut on one leg and a deep six-inch cut on the other. She also had bruising on her face and lower body.

“I didn’t know I had been cut on my legs at the time,” she said. “They were really hurting and afterwards I realised that was because of the cuts.”

She told the court she had decided to take a short cut through part of the park to meet a friend just before midnight when the attack happened. It was very dark at the time. The court was told Cornelius, who lived alone in a flat in the town’s Dolphin Street, had been fixated on women. Just days before the attack he had been spending most of his money on prostitutes and talking about knives. And when care workers visited his home they saw the words sodomy and rape daubed on the walls inside. Anthony Prosser, prosecuting, said Cornelius’ flat was provided by a charity which helps people with mental health problems and staff visited him twice a day to help him build a life on his own.

“ln the week leading up to the attack staff realised his mental health was deteriorating and he was fixated on finding a female partner,” Mr Prosser said. “He was spending most of his money on prostitutes and not taking his medication.”

As a result the charity’s female staff were not allowed to go into Cornelius’ flat. On June 17 Cornelius contacted the charity and said he had locked himself out. He was told totake ataxi to the office to get a spare set of keys and arrivedatabout 11.15pm. On the way back Cornelius told the driver to drop him in Central Parade. Mr Prosser said:

“He was out and about in the area late at night and the attack took place very shortly after midnight. She [the victim] said the man had a distinctive voice, very deep, and we say that Cornelius has a very deep voice. We say that this was a very serious sexual assault; an attempted rape. In the course of her struggle with the man the woman received a series of cuts which came from a blade or knife of some sort.”

At 1.30am Cornelius rang the charity and Mr Prosser said this showed he was awake at this time although, he later told police he was in bed and asleep. Mr Prosser said by the early morning of June 19 the story of the attack had started to feature on the local news and in newspapers. A member of staff from the charity went with Cornelius to the cashpoint and noticed he had difficulty walking when he had been perfectly ok a couple of days earlier. Police arrested Cornelius, who told them it could have been him, Mr Prosser said. His flat was searched and lots of writing was found. This included drawings f stick people with the words Memorial Park, a piece of paper with the words who to rape on it and a copy of the Herne Bay Gazette’s story of the attack with a phallus drawn on it. Interviewed by police, Cornelius said it was not a phallus but just a scrawl and he denied having anything to do with the attack. He told police he was in bed asleep when it took place. Mr Prosser told the jury:

“We say that is not right because we know about the taxi ride and the phone call. He had been writing notes about committing a sex attack and we know he was out near the Memorial Park at the time of the attack.”

Cornelius also denies an alternative charge of sexual assault. The trial continues.

Herne Bay Gazette, December 18th 2014

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