Sex attacker left battered and bruised by heroic young woman

The battered face of sex attacker Johnathon Holmes, who has been jailed for four-and-half years
The battered face of sex attacker Johnathon Holmes, who has been jailed for four-and-half years

This is the battered and bruised face of a Sheffield sex attacker after a heroic young woman he had dragged into bushes fought him off with a set of house keys.

Johnathon Holmes’ appalling attack was only stopped by the extraordinary bravery of his intended victim, who fought back by hitting him with her keys in her hand and by biting down on his tongue when he put it in her mouth.

His courageous victim told Sheffield Crown Court yesterday: “I believed without a doubt this man was going to rape me. My life would have been over – he might as well have killed me right there.

“I was so terrified but so angry.”

Holmes, aged 35, of Valentine Road, Sheffield Lane Top, was jailed for four-and-a-half years for the attack in the early hours of November 1 this year.

He was caught on CCTV in Sheffield city centre hiding behind walls and watching lone women after spending the afternoon and evening drinking in town.

At around midnight, he started following a 21-year-old woman as she made her way home from work and tracked her through the streets for over a mile.

Realising she was being followed, the woman crossed Cemetery Road three times to try and avoid him.

But he continued to follow her and as she got her phone out to call her partner and put her keys inside her hand to protect herself if needed, Holmes ran at her and pushed her into bushes close to the Nuffield gym.

She managed to punch him twice in the stomach while holding the keys and started to scream.

The court heard Holmes forced her on to her back and climbed on top of her, saying: “You are going to enjoy this.”

He started to grope her breasts, while the young woman attempted to hit him in the stomach, face and neck while screaming for help.

He told her to shut up, put his hand over her face and then forced his tongue into her mouth.

The woman bit down hard on his tongue and Holmes began to relax his pressure on her.

Rachael Harrison, prosecuting, said the victim manoeuvred herself into a position over her attacker where she had her keys held to his neck and throat.

As her cries for help were heard by two passers-by, Holmes jumped over some railings in an attempt to escape, injuring himself in the process.

Ms Harrison said his intended victim had said: “He won’t do anything like this to a woman again.”

The defendant was found by police at 1.30am that night and later told officers in interview he couldn’t remember the events of the night due to being drunk.

He was sentenced to four years and six months in jail at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday after previously admitting sexual assault.

Holmes appeared via video link from custody but his victim was in court and read out a statement about the impact of the attack on her.

Amy Earnshaw, for Holmes, said the attack was ‘completely out-of-character for this gentleman.’

She said: “He can’t say why he has acted as he did.

“When he was interviewed by the police, he said he had no recollection of the incident but if it looked as though it was him, he was sorry for his actions.”

Sentencing, Judge Sarah Wright told Holmes she had ‘no doubt whatsoever’ he had deliberately targeted the young woman.

She said his intended victim had ‘fought back with considerable bravery and courage.’