02:29PM, Wednesday 29 June 2016
A nine-year prison sentence has been handed to a man who tried to drag a young woman into Burnham Park to sexually assault her.
Neeraj Sharma, of Stowe Road, Slough, appeared at Reading Crown Court on Friday to be sentenced, after being convicted of attempted kidnap with intent to commit a sexual offence.
Graham Smith, prosecuting, told the court that on the morning of Monday, February 29, 34-year-old Sharma approached a 20-year-old woman walking down Burnham Lane.
The young woman was on her way to Burnham railway station.
The court heard how Sharma said: “Excuse me can I talk to you?"
The court heard that after the woman ignored him, Sharma said: “Stop I want to talk to you” before grabbing the woman from behind and pushing her against a metal railing underneath Burnham Lane bridge.
The court was told that the woman broke free and took a photo of Sharma on her phone before calling 999.
Sharma then grabbed her by the waist causing her to scream.
After the student fell to the ground the court was told Sharma asked: “Why are you being like this? I just want to talk to you.”
The court heard that Sharma then attempted to drag the student towards Burnham Park but she grabbed hold of a nearby sign ‘with all her strength’.
At this point the court heard the student’s ongoing 999 call switched to loudspeaker, causing her attacker to flee.
Sharma was arrested later that day and charged the day after.
Summing up, Judge Ian Grainger said: “To be dragged off the street and pushed down in an alley for sexual purposes is everyone’s nightmare.”
He added that because Sharma had previous convictions for attempted kidnapping, GBH and possession of cocaine with intent to supply, he would pass an extended sentence.
Sharma was given a nine-year sentence for attempted kidnapping and a 12-month sentence for intending to commit a sexual assault, to be served concurrently. He will not be eligible for release before five years.
Speaking after the sentencing, investigating officer, Det Con Stuart Malham of Force CID, said: “This was an extremely distressing incident for the victim. I would like to acknowledge her courage throughout our investigation and subsequent court proceedings. I also praise her for her quick thinking which enabled us to identify and arrest Sharma on the same day as the incident.
“I am pleased that Sharma admitted responsibility for his actions and pleaded guilty to the offences. He will now have a very long time to think about his actions and the impact on the victim.
“Crimes of this nature are fortunately very rare but Sharma’s conviction demonstrates that when they do happen Thames Valley Police will find those responsible and work with the Crown Prosecution Service to bring them to justice.”