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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.

Crime

Crawley Council warns of rise of conmen knocking on doors across town

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The message is very clear – Be scam aware!

Crawley Borough Council is warning residents to be scam aware following a rise in reports of conmen knocking on doors.

The council has recently received reports of two different scams, where residents are asked to pay thousands of pounds up front for work that isn’t needed or shouldn’t cost anywhere near that amount.

In the first scam, a group of men were knocking on residents’ doors claiming to be from a boiler company and saying that they had been sent to check on boilers.

This happened to a resident in Bewbush, who was told their boiler needed to be fixed at a cost of £4,000, which he was told to withdraw from his bank without telling anyone. This particular tenant was vulnerable but fortunately the bank staff knew him well and questioned why he was withdrawing such a large amount of money.

His support worker was then notified and the incident was reported to the police. Additional security measures have been put in place for this tenant.

The second scam was reported in Gossops Green, where a resident was scammed for fencing at a cost of £3,500. This was reported to the police and fortunately the cheque was cancelled before the scammers got their money.

Scams come in many different forms and not just on the doorstep. Other scams include emails, phone calls and text messages. We are encouraging tenants to be extra careful when buying products or services online or in person.

Some of the signs to look out for include:

*             You are asked to pay money up front, for example to cover delivery costs or to ‘release funds’

*             You have ‘won a prize’ in a lottery or competition you have never heard of, much less entered

*             You are pressurised or hurried into making a decision – e.g. told to ‘act now’ as the price will go up if you don’t buy immediately

*             You are told to not tell anyone else about it – for example ‘it’s an exclusive deal only for you’

*             Unsolicited emails, phone calls, text messages or letters

*             Emails from sources you don’t recognise that include attached documents or other files

*             Emails that appear to be from your bank, HMRC or another trustworthy source that ask you to reveal personal data, such as your account details.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said:

“There will always be a small number of people who seek to take advantage of others, but we can protect ourselves from scams by taking a little extra time to check people are who they claim to be.”

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