Hastings rapist who subjected woman to ‘horrendous ordeal’ on West Hill jailed

Luke Smith. Picture supplied by Sussex Police
Luke Smith. Picture supplied by Sussex Police

A man who subjected a woman to the ‘most violent rape’ on the West Hill area of Hastings has been jailed.

Luke Smith, 27, a builder of no fixed address, was found guilty of one charge of rape and not guilty to a second charge of rape after a five-day trial at Lewes Crown Court on June 7. Both charges related to the same victim.

Today (Friday, July 12), Smith was sentenced at Hove Crown Court and jailed for 13 years with an extended licence period of a further six years.

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

Smith, who had been drinking on his own in Hastings town centre saw the teenage woman 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 tracked Smith down within hours with the help of forensic analysis.

Smith will have to serve two-thirds of his 13-year sentence before being allowed to apply for parole, and will have to spend a further six years on licence supervision from the date of his release, and will also be a registered sex offender for life.

He has also been disqualified from working with children for life, Hove Crown Court added.

Speaking after Smith was convicted, 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 victim’s 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 added: “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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