'I literally fought for my life': Brave 15-year-old Leeds schoolgirl disarmed dangerous sex offender then took his photo after he forced her into bushes at knife-point

A courageous teenager fought off a dangerous dangerous sex offender after he forced her into bushes at knife-point as she walked across fields in Leeds.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Thursday, 13th May 2021, 11:35 am

The 15-year-old victim managed to disarm Nathan Rawson despite suffering a serious cut to her hand during the struggle.

The youngster then had the presence of mind to use her mobile phone to take pictures of her attacker which led to him being brought to justice.

A court heard details of the victim's outstanding bravery as she feared Rawson was about to murder her or subject her to a serious assault.

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Sex offender Nathan Rawson was given an extended sentence of 13 years and eight months at Leeds Crown Court over the kidnap and wounding of a 15-year-old girl in Leeds.

After the incident she said: "I literally fought for my life that day."

Leeds Crown Court heard Rawson targeted the girl as she walked across fields near to Torre Close, Burmantofts, on February 15, 2019.

The victim was listening to music on her headphones when the 25-year-old walked up to her and grabbed her by the waist.

Rawson then showed the girl a knife and ordered her to go with him.

A mobile phone picture of Nathan Rawson taken by his 15-year-old victim moments after she managed to grab his knife and escape from him. The images were used in a West Yorkshire Police appeal which led to the sex offender's arrest.

He forced her to go into bushes with him then pushed her shoulders downwards.

Fearing she was going to be killed, the girl grabbed hold of the knife when she saw the handle of the blade sticking out of his clothing.

There was a struggle and the teenager cut her hand on the weapon but managed to take it from him and ran off.

She took out her mobile phone to call police as she ran but Rawson chased after her.

A mobile phone picture of Nathan Rawson taken by his 15-year-old victim moments after she managed to grab his knife and escape from him. The images were used in a West Yorkshire Police appeal which led to the sex offender's arrest.

He demanded that she return the knife but the quick-thinking teenager used the phone to take pictures of Rawson.

Rawson ran off and the victim ran to a street where she called an ambulance and asked residents for help.

The victim retraced her steps from the incident as she returned to the crime scene with a detective who filmed her as she described her ordeal.

The footage was to be used at Rawson's trial but was played in court at his sentencing hearing after he admitted responsibility for the attack

Nathan Rawson pictured running from the scene in the direction of Leeds city centre after he was disarmed by the schoolgirl he attacked at knife-point.

He was given an extended prison term of 13 years and eight months after being told he represents a serious public danger.

During filming, the girl told the officer: "I went with him and did what he said.

"My knees were shaking really badly. I dropped my bag and kept on walking.

"While we were walking I asked him not to hurt me and he said he wouldn't do anything.

"I didn't know what his intentions were."

The victim then showed the officer the area where Rawson forced her to go into the bushes.

She continued: "That's when I saw the handle of the knife and thought 'I've got to do something now'.

"I grabbed the knife and started pulling.

"I managed to snatch it out of his hand and that's when he started to back off a bit.

"After that I ran back up from where I came."

The youngster continued to provide a commentary of the terrifying events, adding: "A couple of seconds later he came back up.

"He was standing there and asked me to give him his knife back and I said 'no'.

"I realised I had my phone in my right hand and quickly managed to take a picture of him.

"He told me not to take a picture of him and started running off."

Julian Jones, prosecuting, said Rawson was quickly identified as a suspect when officers recognised him from the images the girl had taken.

He has a previous conviction for sexually assaulting a woman after stalking her through the streets in a similar offence committed in February 2016.

Rawson denied the offences and went on to commit burglaries in the Burley area of Leeds in June and August of 2019 while on bail.

Both burglaries involved him breaking into properties in the middle of the night as victims were asleep in bed.

In the first offence he stole computer and electrical equipment worth £1,100 from a house on Hessle View.

The victim later found the stolen equipment for sale at an exchange store.

It was discovered that Rawson's then girlfriend, Sophie Sedgwick, had sold the stolen items.

Rawson also broke into a house on Stanmore Grove as the woman who lived there was in bed.

A bank card was stolen which was used by Sedgwick to buy items at a shop.

Rawson pleaded guilty to kidnapping, unlawful wounding, possession of an offensive weapon and two counts of burglary.

Sedgwick, who appeared in the dock beside her former partner, pleaded guilty to two offences of handling stolen goods and fraud.

The court heard Rawson was living with Sedgwick at Nutting Grove Terrace, Farnley, when he committed the offences.

Taryn Turner, mitigating for Rawson, said: "Nothing I say on behalf of the defendant is intended to downplay the effect that this would have had.

Ms Turner said her client maintains that his intention was to rob the teenager of her phone to fund his use of cocaine.

The barrister added: "She was a plucky individual who saw him off.

"He didn't follow her and he left the scene.

"He knows a significant custodial sentence must follow."

Rawson must serve a custodial period of eight years and eight months, of which he must spend at least two-thirds in prison before he is eligible to apply to the parole board for release.

He must then spend a further five years on licence.

Sentencing, The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl QC said: "There can be no doubt that this was a terrifying incident for her, as it was for the victim in the 2016 incident.

"It seems to me you had clearly planned this attack, going out in the morning with a knife.

"You knew the location where you would take her.

"This was not something that was done by chance, nor was it opportunistic."

Sedgwick was made the subject of a community order for 12 months.