A man has been sentenced to a total of 19 years and one month in prison after he kidnapped and raped a woman in Hemel Hempstead.
Zachery Owens, aged 26, of Wilkinson Way, Hemel Hempstead, appeared at Luton Crown Court on Tuesday 19 May for sentencing, after previously pleading guilty to the following six charges, which all relate to one victim:
- Rape of a female aged 16 years or over (two counts)
- Assault of a female aged 13 years or over by penetration
- Taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent
- Driving while disqualified
He was sentenced to a total of 18 years and 9 months for the two counts of rape and the assault by penetration, and five years for the kidnap charge to run concurrently. He was sentenced to an additional four months for both driving offences, to run consecutively.
Further charges of false imprisonment and inflicting grievous bodily harm were not proceeded with but the prosecution team asked that they lie on file.
The court heard how Owens kidnapped the victim, a woman in her 20s, on Farmhouse Lane at 7.30am on Tuesday 21 January this year. The victim, who was walking to work when she was attacked, was not known to Owens.
He tried to engage her in conversation before forcing her into a BMW, which he had taken without the owner’s consent.
A witness, who had been walking their dog, heard the victim calling out for help but they did not have a mobile phone, so they knocked on the door of a house nearby and asked for the police to be called. Her Honour Judge Barbara Mensah commended their quick-thinking actions during the court proceedings.
After he had forced the victim into the car, Owens sexually assaulted her before raping her twice. He then drove her to a block of flats in the Adeyfield area of the town.
Once inside, the victim had to jump from a second-floor balcony to escape her attacker. She suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised as a result. Owens fled before a member of the public went to the victim’s aid and called police, who arrived at the scene in less than five minutes.
Owens was arrested the following day (Wednesday 22 January) and charged in the early hours of Thursday 23 January.
The victim was discharged from hospital a few days after the attack. She has been supported throughout the investigation by Investigator Jess Hart from the Constabulary’s Sexual Offences Investigation Team.
Detective Inspector Phil Moss, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: ‘Today we finally have justice for Owens’ victim, who has shown nothing but courage and dignity throughout her awful ordeal. I cannot imagine what she must have been through since that terrible day, but I know the people of Hemel Hempstead, and indeed the whole of Hertfordshire, will have her in their thoughts.
‘Owens’ brazen actions on that day clearly show what a danger he is to women and as a result of our investigation, he is now facing a significant prison term. We hope today’s sentencing means his victim can, in some part, move forward and begin to rebuild her life now justice has been served.’
On his release, Owens will remain on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life and he will be managed by officers from the Public Protection Unit. He will also be disqualified from driving for 18 months.
Hertfordshire Constabulary takes all reports of sexual assault extremely seriously. If you would like to report a sexual assault, you can do this by using the online reporting form at herts.police.uk/report, using online web chat at herts.police.uk/contact or by calling 101. If the assault has just happened, or you or someone else is in danger, then always dial 999.
If you do not want to speak directly to police, anyone in Hertfordshire who has experienced sexual abuse or sexual violence can contact the Herts Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for practical and emotional support. The centre can arrange face-to-face support, sexual health referrals, and provide forensic medical examinations for those who want them.
To contact Herts SARC, call the 24/7 helpline on 0808 178 4448, email Herts.SARC@nhs.net or visit www.hertssarc.org. This service is open to everyone – men, women and young people – no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.