A sexual predator who tried to abduct women in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire is facing years in prison after being unanimously convicted.
Peter Smith, 33, claimed he was desperate for money and was intent on committing burglary and robberies when he targeted two women in separate attacks in Market Harborough and Desborough three months apart.
Northampton Crown Court heard he approached a 23-year-old woman in Scotland Road, Little Bowden, Market Harborough, on November 17 last year, armed with a knife. She was kidnapped, threatened and sexually assaulted but managed to fight him off, causing him to flee.
Despite Leicestershire Police releasing an accurate artist’s impression, he was not caught until February this year.
Again armed with a knife, and wearing tights over his head, Smith tried to kidnap a 17-year-old woman in Rothwell Road, Desborough, on February 18.
Mary Loram, prosecuting, said the teenager, who also cannot be named, was able to flag down a passing car and thwart the kidnap bid.
She was able to note part of his Renault car’s registration and he was arrested near his home two hours later.
Smith claimed the attempted abductions were not sexually motivated and told the jury he was intent on robbery due to being in serious debt.
Miss Loram said: “The defendant says ‘Yes, that’s me on both occasions in November and February’.
“But he says he is not a sinister stranger trying to force young women into his car. He says ‘I am a robber’.”
“You (the jury) are in an unusual position of not being asked to decide whether crimes were committed, but of having to decide which crimes were committed. Is the defendant a hapless robber or is this an attempt by him to limit the damage, to hide a much more worrying and sinister motive?”
Smith, who was jailed for five years for the 2005 kidnap of a 15-year-old girl in Newcastle, told the jury he was in deep financial trouble and intended to rob both women of their phones and iPods, insisting they misinterpreted his actions.
He said: “It was not about getting them into my car, it was about demanding their things from them and taking them from them.”
When asked if he was aroused during the sexual assault in Market Harborough, he told the jury it had been a Mag Light torch in his pocket.
Smith, of Rushton Road, Rothwell, denied possessing a Stanley knife, kidnap and sexual assault on November 17 and attempted kidnap on February 18. He shook his head and wept as the jury’s unanimous verdicts were announced after a five-day trial.
Summing up, Judge Rupert Mayo said the jury could only convict on the two kidnap charges if they were sure they were sexually-motivated.
Adjourning sentence for probation and psychiatric reports and remanding him in custody, the judge said Smith was facing years in prison with an extended recall licence when he is eventually released. He is now likely be on the sex offenders’ register for life.
Judge Mayo added: “The question is whether I need a report and whether he is dangerous or not because I do think there is a significant risk of serious harm to members of the public by the commission of further offences.
“The sentence is likely to be an extended period of licence rather than an indeterminate detention.
“When I do sentence him, I will do so as the Crown has put it, that he is a predatory person.”
During the trial, Miss Loram said: “Leicestershire Police happened to fortunately hear about what had happened in Northamptonshire and it all seemed rather familiar. They decided to investigate the defendant and on March 7, the 23-year-old picked him out from an ID parade.
“The defendant is not saying these two women, who have never met and live in different counties, were lying but they are mistaken and misinterpreted his actions, Would it be coincidence that both women he attacked are both young women?
“And he did not actual steal anything. The 23-year-old had a brand new Samsung Galaxy 2. He did not steal that.
“The 17-year-old had a mobile phone and an iPod and he did not take either. That flies in the face of him being a robber.”