Train Sex Attacker Jailed

27 October 2011, 12:14 | Updated: 27 October 2011, 12:45

A sex offender who dragged a sleepy teenager into a train toilet and attacked has been jailed for 5 years.

John Diddier, who had previous convictions for two indecent assaults on women on trains and one for indecently assaulting a woman patient in a hospital, was also given a extended sentence of 10 years  - which means he will be supervised by probation officers on his release from prison.

The stocky, bearded pervert spotted his victim alone in a carriage in the early hours of the morning. The slightly-built 17-year-old student from St Albans, Herts had fallen asleep and missed her stop on a train that had left St Pancras Station in London.

St Albans crown court heard Diddier, 49, began to stroke the girl. He grabbed her right wrist and pulled her into the cubicle where he trapped her and began to kiss her neck.

Prosecutor Janet Weeks told the jury of 8 men and 4 women: "She said: 'Stop', but he did not listen. He was slobbering. She said 'Stop' a number of times."

He pulled down her pants and sexually assaulted her before crouching down and biting her.

The prosecutor went on: "Nothing was said by him, but after a few minutes he dragged her out of the toilet and pushed her back to the same seat. He then leant towards her and pulled up her dress and fondled her breasts."

She pleaded with him and he then said: "Next time I won't stop."

The teenager, who had been to a music event, had travelled on a First Capital Connect train from St Pancras in London, which left at ten to five in the morning. She fell asleep just after Radlett station and missed getting off at St Albans.

She woke when the train stopped at the end of the line at Bedford. It was due to return to London at 18 minutes past six so she stayed on it, intending to get off at St Albans.

The girl was tired and wanted to sleep, but Diddier tried to talk to her. "He moved across and started stroking her arm. She pulled her arm away and said: 'Stop touching me please.' She became scared and worried. She was alone," said Ms Weeks.

It was then that he dragged her into the cubicle. After the attack the girl noticed two men had got into the carriage and she moved down and sat by them. Diddier appeared and asked why she had moved. Ms Weeks said: "One said: 'Can't you see she is upset. Leave her alone."

She got off at St Albans station at 7am and went home. Later that morning she reported what happened at St Albans police station.

DNA on her bra, dress and pants was found to match Diddier.

Ms Weeks told the court how attack had affected the victim, who is now a university student. She said: "She was a 17 year old who was confident and outgoing. Since this attack she has had repeated nightmares and sleeps with the light on.

"She does not wear dresses or skirts any more and does not take the train.

"She doesn't trust men anymore. She missed three weeks of school when this happened. It was close to her examination period, but she managed to get to university. She missed Freshers' Week when she gave evidence in this trial."

Diddier was arrested at 4.15 in the morning of 9 April travelling on a train between Luton and St Albans. He made no comment to police questions.

John Diddier, of no fixed address, denied assault by penetration and two charges of sexual assault on 26 January this year. He was unanimously convicted of assault by penetration and one of the sexual assault charges. The jury convicted him by a majority of 10 to 2 on the other charge of sexual assault.

After his conviction Ms Weeks told the jury Diddier had 24 previous court appearances for 70 offences. Most were not sexually related ,but in 1984 he had been convicted of going into a hospital in Newham in London where he kissed the breast of a sleeping woman patient before masturbating in the nurses' quarters. He received a suspended sentenced.

In 1992 he was sentenced to four years for two indecent assaults on women on trains. In January and February of that year he attacked two different women on trains between London and Southampton by putting a hand up their skirts.

His barrister Justin Rouse said he had not committed a sex offence since 1992.

Judge Marie Catterson told Diddier: "She did her frightened best to tell you to stop. She is an intelligent and rational girl who will do her best to get over the attack, but he impact on her has been very real.

"It was a frightening attack by a stranger in circumstances where your victim was vulnerable, young and slightly built. It was a gross violation of her sexual integrity."

She went on: "It was a predatory offence and I find that you are a high risk of serious harm to the public."

After the sentencing, Detective Constable Claire Harwood-Boehm, the investigating officer, said: "This was a brutal and shocking attack and with Diddier now behind bars he will not be able to attack anyone else.

"The victim was subjected to a horrific ordeal but has shown tremendous bravery throughout this process, despite having to re-live what happened to bring Diddier to justice.

"She could have been too scared to come forward and report this to police but it is to her credit that she did and I hope this gives anyone else in a similar situation the courage to do the same.

"This sentence highlights the severity of crimes like this, which are very rare on the rail network and continuing to decrease. I hope this shows that BTP takes all allegations of sexual offences extremely seriously and will always seek to catch and prosecute those responsible."