Follow Sussex Police Media Centre

Hastings street rapist given 13-year prison sentence

News   •   Jul 12, 2019 11:28 BST

A man who viciously attacked and raped a young woman he met in Hastings Old Town in the early hours of the morning has now been given a long prison sentence following a police investigation which tracked him down within hours with the help of swift forensic analysis

Luke Smith, 27, a labourer of no fixed address, was sentenced to 13 years with an extended licence period of a further six years,.when he appeared at Hove Crown Court on Friday (12 July).

He 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 had been convicted on Friday 7 June after a five-day trial.

Smith, who had been drinking on his own in Hastings town centre , saw 19-year-old woman as she was on her way home after a night out in the early hours of Saturday, 15 December 2018. He took her to a secluded part of West Hill near to the West Hill cafe, and subjected her to an horrendous ordeal, repeatedly raping her and striking her, including hitting her over the head with a rock.

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

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. Through 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.

"Her victim impact statement which she courageously read out in person at the sentencing, was very powerful and moving, setting out in no uncertain terms the effect this attack had on her. We hope that with support she will now be able to move on with her life.

"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."

Ref: SXP55017/2019
Author: Tim Mahony

A police custody photo of Smith is attached to this Release.

He was found guilty of one count of rape and not guilty of another count of rape, relating to the same incident.

The victim does not wish to make any media statement or to be contacted by media. She also asks that the content of her victim impact statement is not released.

The image provided remains the property of Sussex Police.

It is provided for the explicit purpose of journalistic coverage and commentary, in the public interest, in relation to the sentencing of the featured person.

You are granted limited licence to use the material for this purpose for 90 days from the date it is provided. You may also re-distribute it for this purpose at zero cost to the receiver, provided it is clearly marked as belonging to Sussex Police and this notice remains.

You may include our material as part of a wider package of journalistic content that is paid for by the receiver – for example a court report or feature article – provided that the material owned by Sussex Police is clearly marked as such, this notice remains and our material is supplemented by content of additional value produced by you.

Re-distribution of this material for profit in breach of the terms above, use for any purpose other than that expressed above or archiving of this material for future use is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Sussex Police.

Requests for use outside of these terms should be sent to media.hq@sussex.pnn.police.uk.