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MP welcomes support for vulnerable rough sleepers in Crawley

Following meeting with James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Communities, Crawley MP Henry Smith has welcomed new Government investment to help West Sussex support rough sleepers into safe and stable accommodation where they can rebuild their lives.

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As a result West Sussex is set to receive £336,000 to help vulnerable people get the specialist support they need to keep them off the streets for good. The money for the Rapid Rehousing Pathway will fund innovative local schemes which will help those sleeping rough off the streets for good, as well as specialist support to help them back on their feet.

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Henry said;

“No one should have to face a night on the streets, and it’s good to see the Government taking steps to ensure that in Crawley people aren’t faced with this as their only option.

“I’m pleased to have successfully lobbied for this new support which will mean vulnerable people in Crawley get the specialist support they need to get back on their feet and turn their lives around. We’re determined to end rough sleeping, and this investment takes us another step further to reaching this outcome.”

As part of this, new support workers will act as a single point of contact to help people with complex needs such as substance abuse and mental health problems to get the advice and support they need to turn their lives around.
Dedicated letting agents will also be funded to provide advice and housing for those sleeping on the streets.

The funding forms part of the Government’s £100 million plan to end rough sleeping by 2027.

Already progress is being made with the first fall in rough sleeping since 2010, but schemes like this will help achieve the ambition of being a country in which no-one needs to sleep on the streets. List Table

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Man given 17 years for sex offences including strangling & beating Crawley girl

An engineer from Partridge Green has been sentenced to 17 years imprisonment for violent and sexual attacks on two women.

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Neil Scott-O’Connor, 23, a household appliance engineer, was sentenced at Hove Crown Court on Friday (17 January) for;

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– 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 had pleaded not guilty to all charges, and was found not guilty of one offence of causing actual bodily harm to the 29-year old woman.

He will have to serve 11 years and four months before being eligible to apply for parole, and will have a to serve a further four years on extended prison licence supervision whenever he is released.

Scott-O’Connor will also be a registered sex offender for life and was given a sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) until further court order, severely controlling his access to women.

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

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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 had worked tirelessly to build a solid evidential case against Scott-O’Connor who clearly 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 supporting us in putting this dangerous offender behind bars.”

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

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