An “exceptionally dangerous” sex attacker who carried out a series of assaults on women and schoolgirls has been jailed with the help of a remarkably accurate E-fit produced by an 11-year-old witness.
Isaac Watson, 24, was given an eight-year prison sentence for a number of sexual assaults on young women and girls aged 11, 12 and 13, in Eastbourne, East Sussex.
He was caught with the help of an E-fit compiled by an 11-year-old witness to one of his assaults. A police officer described it as one of the best E-fits he had ever seen.
Watson, unemployed, from Victoria Road, Eastbourne, had pleaded guilty to five sexual assaults between September 2012 and September 2017.
His victims included three schoolgirls – aged 11, 12 and 13 – and two women aged 30 and 32.
He pleaded not guilty to four other sexual assaults, and at the request of the Crown Prosecution Service, these cases were allowed to lie on the court file.
Watson was sentenced on Monday at Lewes Crown Court by Judge Christine Laing QC, who called him “exceptionally dangerous”.
He must serve the first two-thirds of his eight years in prison before being allowed to apply for parole. When released, he will put on strict licence conditions for a further six years and will be a registered sex offender for life.
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Detective Constable Dan Thomson said; “Over several years Watson had carried out a series of attacks on women and young girls who were walking along the streets in the Old Town area.
“Each case had been fully investigated, we had not been able to identify the assailant.
“Watson targeted his victims carefully and tended to avoid areas where there might be witnesses or CCTV. In some cases he was careful to hide his face. Because he had never before been arrested his DNA was not on file.
— Sussex Police (@sussex_police) September 24, 2018
“But the thorough investigative approach, including the obtaining of DNA evidence, was to pay dividends when Watson was finally traced.
“He would run up behind his victims, taking them unawares, and sexually assault them under their clothing before running off.
“They were all very shocked and upset by this disgusting and frightening behaviour.”
But police made a breakthrough after his attack last September, when an 11-year-old girl, who was a witness not a victim, helped them compile an E-fit.
“The resemblance between the E-fit and Watson is one of the best I have seen,” said DC Thomson. “This is a testament to the memory and descriptive ability of this very young witness.
“Watson might not have been identified as the offender without this young girl’s evidence, or another report from a member of the public who saw the E-fit in the media and contacted us to give us his name. She also told us that at the time the E-fit was published, Watson had cut his hair, which increased our suspicions of him.
“This case really shows the value of the witness appeals we make to the public. We thoroughly investigate all information which is provided to us, and in this case the information we received was vital.”
After he was arrested, Watson’s DNA was found to closely match that found on the clothing of five of the victims.
DC Thomson said: “Thanks to the valuable evidence of the two witnesses… and to our own investigations, combined with the DNA, a dangerous offender, who would undoubtedly have continued to attack women, possibly with even more serious consequences, has been taken off the streets of Eastbourne.”