Sex attacker jailed after being foiled by passers-by

A SEX attacker was jailed for six years yesterday after passing women foiled his bid to rape a teenage schoolgirl.

The High Court in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL
The High Court in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL

Ryan Douglas was also pursued by cyclists, one of whom caught up with him before he managed to flee.

A judge praised the actions of members of the public who reacted to the victim’s pleas for help.

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Paul Arthurson QC told the sex attacker at the High Court in Edinburgh: “But for the highly commendable and courageous actions from members of the public I have no doubt you would have continued with that attack.”

The judge said Douglas did not know his victim, whom he subjected to “a terrifying and harrowing attack”.

Former gang member Douglas, 25, assaulted the 17-year-old as she was walking in Irvine, Ayrshire, held her in a headlock and pulled her by the hair into bushes.

The teenager fought back and a woman who was out with her young son heard her screaming and shouting: “Help me, help me, somebody please help me.”

When Christine Herman went to investigate she saw Douglas pushing the victim against a tree with his arm around her neck.

The teenager said: “Please help me. I don’t know this man.” But Douglas claimed: “She’s only ­joking. It’s just a joke.”

Advocate depute Rosemary Guinnane earlier told the court: “The victim looked terrified. She was crying and distressed. Her clothing was dishevelled and covered in mud as if she had been involved in a struggle.”

Other people also responded to her distress and one began dialling 999 for the police, prompting Douglas to let go of his victim and flee.

One of the women, Yvonne Lynch, enlisted a passing cyclist, Peter Collier, to pursue the sex attacker, shouting: “Chase him, he’s just tried to rape a young girl.”

Mr Collier got the help of another cyclist, Gavin McGrath, in the hunt for the attacker and spotted Douglas at an underpass. Mr Collier grabbed him and shouted that he had captured him to Mr McGrath, but Douglas ­managed to break free and escaped.

Douglas was detained by police the following day at a house in Irvine where police found him hiding under a pile of clothing in a wardrobe.

He earlier admitted assaulting and attempting to rape the teenager on 7 August last year in Manson Road, Irvine, Ayrshire.

During the attack, jobless Douglas, who has previous convictions for violence, possession of offensive weapons and anti-social behaviour, exposed himself to his victim. He was told he would be placed on the sex ­offenders’ register indefinitely.

Defence counsel Frances Connor said Douglas wished to express “his sincere apologies and regret” to the victim for the trauma she was subjected to. The court heard he maintained he had no memory of the incident.

Miss Connor said: “The very circumstances of this offence would indicate that he had consumed a ridiculous amount of alcohol. It was committed in broad daylight on a public path where people were walking.”