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Man jailed for stealing charity collection tins

A man who broke into a café and stole three charity collection tins has been jailed.

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Police were alerted to the break-in at The Conservatory Café in North Street, Horsham, about 11.30pm on Monday 13 May.

Smashed windows and traces of blood were discovered at the scene and a witnesses described a man acting suspiciously in the area around the time of the offence.

Due to the description provided and the information received, a suspect was nominated.

A PCSO on patrol spotted the suspect in Hurst Road about 7pm the following evening (14 May) and noticed he had cuts on his hand consistent with a recent injury.

The suspect was identified as Kieran Blunden, 33, unemployed, of no fixed address.

Further officers attended to assist, and Blunden was arrested and charged with burglary.

He was remanded in custody to appear before Crawley Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 16 May, where he was sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £50 in compensation.

Blunden also admitted stealing a charity box from the Cancer Research shop in West Street, Horsham, on 14 May, and this offence was taken into consideration during sentencing.

Investigations Supervisor Dave Bell said:

“Blunden’s sentence reflects the seriousness of the offence committed and takes into account his previous offending history.

“This was a diabolical offence whereby the defendant has stolen from the most vulnerable in our community.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved for helping to bring him to justice – from the café owner who initially reported it, to the witness who provided a good description of the suspect, and the PCSO whose local knowledge ultimately led to Blunden being identified and arrested.”

Crime

Man who strangled and beat 17-year-old Crawley girl convicted

An engineer from Partridge Green has been convicted of violent and sexual attacks on two women after a Sussex Police investigation.

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Neil Scott-O’Connor, 23, a household appliance engineer, was convicted at Hove Crown Court on Thursday (28 November) after a 14-day trial, of;

– six offences against a 29-year old woman at an address in Brighton on dates between September 2018 and January 2019; one offence of threats to kill, one of attempted strangulation with intent to commit a sexual offence, two offences of causing actual bodily harm, and one of harassment with intent to cause fear;
– three offences against a 17-year-old girl at his address in Partridge Green in December 2018; one offence of attempted strangulation with intent to commit a sexual offence and two of causing actual bodily harm.

He was found not guilty of one offence of causing actual bodily harm to the 29-year old woman.

He had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The prosecution, authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service, followed an investigation by detectives from both the West Sussex Investigations team and the Brighton Safeguarding Investigation Unit (SIU).

Scott-O’Connor had his own business an emergency appliance repair man, driving around Sussex fixing appliances in houses or in businesses.
Police first became aware of Scott-O’Connor’s offending when the 17-year-old woman from Crawley came forward. She had extensive bruising on her body and reported that she had been strangled almost to the point of unconsciousness by someone she had met on Facebook, during their first date. This man was Scott-O’Connor. He was arrested in December 2018 and was released on bail whilst an investigation began.

The scope of his sexualised offending soon became apparent when the 29-year-old woman from Brighton then came forward reporting similar attacks and non-consensual strangulation during their short relationship.

She too had photographs of extensive bruising and injuries inflicted by him. When the relationship ended Scott-O’Connor made multiple threats to the victim which included him threatening to burn her house down, to cut the brake lines on her car, and shoot her and her two-year-old son. Fearing he was capable of carrying out these threats she immediately reported him to police. He was further arrested and interviewed during which he continued to deny any wrong doing.

Officers conducted a thorough examination of his mobile phone and revealed a wealth of information including an Amazon shopping list of weapons and restraints, hundreds of screenshots of female Facebook profiles and the purchase of tracking devices. His Internet search history raised concern further, as did his choice of horror movies depicting rape and torture.

Detective Sergeant Andy Ricks said;

“I am extremely pleased with this result. My team,including Investigator Gary Campbell, and Detective Constable Tracey Dixon from the Brighton SIU, worked tirelessly to build a solid evidential case over the past year. Neil Scott-O’Connor posed a significant risk, luring his victims into relationships through charm and flattery, in one case via social media, then turning to violence and fear to act out his dark sexual fantasies.

“His obsession with strangulation was a common feature in the investigation and it’s only by good fortune that one of his victims was not killed. As Counsel for the prosecution, Richard Hearndon said of Scott-O’Connor; “…during strangulation he literally had their life in his hands”.

“We would also like to thank the victims for having the courage to come forward and support us in putting this dangerous offender behind bars.”

Scott-O’Connor was remanded in custody for pre-sentence reports, prior to sentencing on 17 January 2020.

For information about support and advice available to victims see the Sussex Police website.

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