Gravesend man Arjun Sehgal pleads guilty to sexual assault after claiming he was high on a legal drug
PUBLISHED: 16:52 18 July 2013 | UPDATED: 16:52 18 July 2013
A Gravesend man sexually assaulted a woman in broad daylight while claiming to be under the influence of a legal high.
Arjun Sehgal, 21, was pulled off the woman by a member of the public and chased before being detained as he tried to make an escape following the incident at 7pm on July 9 last year.
Sehgal, of Lamorna Street, claimed he had smoked a legal high just before the attack and could not remember any of it.
He initially denied sexually assaulting the 29-year-old woman but changed his plea three days into his court case yesterday at Maidstone Crown Court.
He molested the woman as she walked towards a block of flats in Homemead Close.
Just before Sehgal grabbed her, the woman saw him get out of a parked van and follow her along the pavement, asking her name.
She told him she didn’t speak to strangers and Sehgal replied: ‘Don’t be like that’, before grabbing her around the shoulders and trying to pull her close to him.
When the terrified victim pulled back, Sehgal grabbed her head and dragged her to the floor, lying down on top of her and rubbing his hands over her body before putting his hand up her skirt.
Alerted by the victim’s screams, residents of the block of flats looked out their windows and witnessed the assault.
Several of them ran out to help the woman, with one dragging Sehgal off her.
Sehgal then tried to run away up Parrock Street but was chased by members of the public and held until police arrived and arrested him.
In interview, Sehgal insisted he had passed out around 3pm after smoking a synthetic cannabinoid legal high known as Annihilation and the next thing he remembered was being sick inside a police car.
Speaking following Sehgal’s change of plea, Judge Andrew Goymer described his actions as ‘outrageous and brazen’, adding that there could have been no question in his mind that the victim was not consenting.
Investigating officer, Det Con Simon Williams, said: “The victim was attacked in broad daylight in a public place, by someone she did not know. She was shown remarkable courage in the last year, even when Sehgal’s initial plea meant she would be going through the trauma of a trial. It is only now he has changed his plea that she may be able to move on.
“She was left traumatised by Sehgal’s brazen attack and I must extend my thanks to the members of the public who intervened. If it wasn’t for their quick and brave actions the victim would likely have been subjected to an even more debasing and prolonged assault.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to warn members of the public that the true effects of any legal high are unknown. Please be aware that while it may be legal, it does not mean that it is safe. Claiming not to remember an incident due to drink or drugs is not a lawful defence.”
Sehgal will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on September 16.