Hastings rapist subjected victim to 'horrendous ordeal' on West Hill

Luke Smith, 27, a labourer of no fixed address, was convicted at Hove Crown Court on Friday 7 June of the rape of a young woman  in Hastings Old Town, said Sussex Police. Sentencing is due on July. 12
Luke Smith, 27, a labourer of no fixed address, was convicted at Hove Crown Court on Friday 7 June of the rape of a young woman in Hastings Old Town, said Sussex Police. Sentencing is due on July. 12

A detective has said the attack on Hastings' West Hill, in which a man raped and struck his victim, was the 'most violent rape' he had ever investigated.

Luke Smith, 27, took his victim to a secluded part of West Hill near to the West Hill cafe in the early hours of Saturday, 15 December 2018 and subjected her to 'an horrendous ordeal', which included hitting her over the head with a rock, police said.

The labourer, of no fixed address, was convicted at Hove Crown Court today (Friday 7 June) after a five-day trial.

He was remanded in custody for reports, prior to sentencing on 12 July, police said.

Smith, who had been drinking on his own in Hastings town centre , saw the teenage woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, as she was on her way home after a night out, police said.

The victim said she had little memory of her night out due to the consumption of alcohol but remembered waking up on the West Hill area while she was being raped by a man she did not know.

She managed to escape only after Smith eventually became distracted looking for his mobile phone.

A police investigation which tracked Smith down within hours with the help of swift forensic analysis.

Detective Inspector Ben Newman from the Hastings Safeguarding Investigations Unit said: "We were told about this horrific attack early that morning and immediate enquiries identified the scene.

"Here our CSI team found a hoody cord which was sent for forensic analysis to a laboratory.

"Luke Smith's DNA was found on the cord and also our victim’s blood.

"As a result we were able to quickly arrest Smith and during a search of his bedroom, we found a t-shirt, hoody jacket (minus cord) and jeans.

"Each item had the victim’s blood on. In addition, Smith’s DNA was found on the victims bra.

"We also found Smith’s blood and the victims DNA on a sandstone rock close to the scene.

"Following consultation with our colleagues at CPS, Smith was subsequently charged and remanded into custody five days later.

"I am so pleased that justice has been served for this brave young woman and that Smith has been taken off the streets."

Detective Sergeant Steve Shimmons of the East Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit said; "This is the most violent rape that I have ever investigated.

"Smith initially lied to us about his involvement in this matter.

"His account changed over time and he tried to suggest in court that he had consensual sex with the victim and did not attack her.

"The jury in this case saw through his lies and have rightly now convicted him of this terrible offence.

"I want to commend the courage of the victim in supporting our investigation and giving evidence in person at the trial, with specialist support measures and help through the Independent Sexual Violence Advisory service.

"Stranger attacks of this type are very rare.

"We always carry out swift and thorough investigations of all reported sexual assaults and we are glad that justice has now been done for this young woman."

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