Assaulted Kent teenager urges rape victims to come forward

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Media captionLillian Constantine filmed Ashraf Miah's attempt to rape her, which led to his conviction, she tells Today

A teenager who filmed a man as he tried to rape her has urged other victims of sexual assault to report the crimes.

Lillian Constantine was attacked in a street not far from her home in Ramsgate, Kent.

She managed to record the ordeal on her phone and provided key evidence to secure the conviction of Ashraf Miah, who was jailed for the attack.

Miss Constantine, who waived her right to anonymity, described how Miah persisted despite being filmed.

'Absolute maniac'

Talking to the BBC's Today programme, she said: "First of all I flipped the video recording on my phone, and turned the light on as well because it was pitch black where I was and I thought, 'Okay, if he sees I'm recording' - and I screamed at him 'I'm recording you, I'm recording you' - he will run off, it would scare him, he wouldn't want to get caught.

"But he did not care at all. I was so shocked. I was screaming at him, swearing at him, screaming for help.

"I thought, this must be an absolute maniac. It was completely barbaric."

Image copyright kent police
Image caption Ashraf Miah was jailed for 13 and a half years

Ms Constantine was on her way home from an evening out last year when Miah, of no fixed address, grabbed her.

She said the attack "felt like a lifetime", but eventually her screams alerted residents nearby who switched on their lights, and she managed to fight him off and stumble home.

Her mother Karen, said: "She was absolutely distressed, distraught. I could see immediately something terrible had happened.

"Her make up, the crying, she was incoherent, clothes were all over the place. It was your worst nightmare coming true."

Image caption Lillian Constantine helped put her attacker behind bars

The aftermath of the attack was also harrowing, Miss Constantine said.

HIV prevention medication she had to take made her ill, and during police interviews she had to repeatedly go over what happened.

"I got to a point I was absolutely certain I was going to drop the case, I had to do a video interview and give all the gritty details and I just told them to stop, I'm done," she said.

"I started thinking it was a waste of my time, of my life. I started getting depressed. It consumed my whole life and I just thought, why am I putting myself through this?"

Victims 'supported'

Despite that, with support of her friends and family she became determined to get justice and now is encouraging others to do the same.

"You are a victim and a survivor and you need to keep pushing through and see it until the end," she said.

Kent Police said its priority was to treat victims with respect, with investigations being managed by specialist teams working with victim support charities.

Det Ch Supt Tom Richards said: "We know this process can be daunting and to ensure they don't go through this alone victims are also referred to an independent sexual violence advisor.

"These advisors look after their specific needs and help them understand how the criminal justice process works and supports them through a criminal trial."

Image caption A screen grab of Ashraf Miah taken from Lillian Constantine's video

Miah was found guilty of attempted rape, sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault without penetration.

He was sentenced on 24 April to nine and a half years in jail, plus another four years on extended licence.

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