Hythe: Man Jailed Over Canal Attack

A man who left DNA on his victim’s clothing after carrying out a sexual assault has been sentenced to six years in prison.

Christopher Michael Hatcher, 30 of Dymchurch Road in Hythe had previously pleaded guilty to sexual assault, kidnap and robbery when he appeared at Canterbury Crown Court in October.

Hatcher appeared at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday 16 January and was sentenced to 6 years in prison, will serve another two on licence and was given a sexual offences prevention order and placed on the sex offenders’ register.

Officers used sophisticated forensic techniques to extract strands of DNA left by the 30-year-old on an item of his victim’s clothing and her handbag during the attack last year.

The victim had been walking along Royal Military Canal in Hythe at about 7.30am on Sunday 22 June, when she heard someone running behind her.

As she turned to see who it was, the man stopped running and began walking towards her. He was wearing a top with the hood pulled over his head and a scarf covered his face.

It was then that he revealed a knife and told the victim: "Don’t make a noise, come with me."

The victim was forced to walk back in the direction she had come from while Hatcher followed behind saying: "Don’t look at me, remember I have got a knife".

When they arrived at a secluded spot by the canal, Hatcher told her to lay on the floor and cover her face with a jumper. He then performed a sex act.

When the victim got up, Hatcher was rifling through her handbag and found her purse. He said: "I’ll take this" before running off in the direction of Folkestone.

The victim was found by a dog walker, who called police.

Forensic specialists carried out an examination of the victim’s handbag and clothing and extracted strands of DNA.

That was to prove crucial for detectives investigating the incident when officers attended a call on 5 July of a report of a man acting suspiciously near the canal tow path.

Officers arrested Hatcher at the scene and DNA tests later provided a direct match to a profile found on the victim’s clothing and handbag from the sex attack on 22 June.

In interview he denied the offence and said he had not been to that area of Hythe for many years, but pleaded guilty during a plea and case management hearing at court on Tuesday 21 October.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Richard Vickery of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "This was a premeditated incident in which Hatcher targeted his victim in a secluded area in the early hours of a Sunday morning.

"It must have been a terrifying experience for the victim. With her assistance and detailed account we were able to compile a thorough and comprehensive case against Hatcher. She is an extremely courageous young lady and I would take this opportunity to thank her personally.

"In the weeks after the assault, officers carried out regular patrols in the area to keep members of the public safe and they were close by when they were able to respond to a call on 5 July.

"Officers were able to make a crucial arrest and thanks to the advances in forensic science, we were able to match Hatcher’s DNA with that found on an item of the victim’s clothing and handbag."

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