Revealed: How CCTV trawl helped police stop dangerous Leeds sex attacker

Jamie Sharlotte.
Jamie Sharlotte.
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A Leeds detective has told how a dangerous sexual predator who targeted two women in separate street attacks was brought to justice after police trawled through hours of CCTV footage.

Jamie Sharlotte was given an extended prison term of 12 years after a judge said he continued to pose a serious risk of harming women.

The 25-year-old was found guilty of two “predatory” attacks on woman near his home in Cross Gates, Leeds, in April and October last year.

Detective Constable Tony Thompson of West Yorkshire Police, who led the criminal investigation, has now revealed details of the painstaking investigation which led to Sharlotte’s conviction.

At the time of the second attack, carried out on October 26 on a grassed area off York Road, between Dufton Approach and Inglewood Drive, Sharlotte was only known to police in relation to previous non-sexual offences.

The victim was unable to provide a description of her attacker because his facial features were obscured, and there was no forensic evidence as he was wearing gloves when he assaulted her.

CCTV from a neighbour’s house showed only the victim running past, and a man in dark clothing, but after tracking down further footage from a nearby business by expanding the search area, a further clue emerged.

At 3am on the day of the October attack, a lone figure was seen walking down the street wearing a backpack.

“We looked at the CCTV and he looked to be going somewhere with a purpose as opposed to just dawdling,” Det Con Thompson said.

“We checked previous days’ CCTV and what we believed to be the same person was shown there on the previous day, at the same time, around 3am.”

An officer went to the scene in the early hours and when a man walking down the street who fit the description but without a rucksack walked past, he was stopped.

The man turned out to be Jamie Sharlotte, an employee at a local fruit and vegetable wholesaler.

Sharlotte denied the offence in a police interview, but when officers searched his house in Victoria Court they found a rucksack with a pair of black gloves inside.

More CCTV trawling was done, this time at a nearby fire station, with the resultant footage showing the victim passing a male, who then turned round and followed her.

“After we got that together and submitted the gloves for forensic examination, it was discovered that the victim’s DNA was on his gloves,” Det Con Thompson said.

“It was such a strong profile that the examiner believed it was body fluid, because the profile was so well represented.”

At the same time, detectives went back through past records for similar attacks that had taken place in the local area, finding an incident in nearby Templar Lane where a woman was targeted in broad daylight after getting off the bus.

The attacker pulled his victim to the ground, put his hand to her throat and tried to remove her trousers, but fled when she continued to struggle.

Though the attack in April led to the production of an e-fit image, which bears a resemblance to Sharlotte, no suspect was ever found and it was filed pending further investigation.

Police went back to the victim, who was willing to try and identify her attacker, and successfully picked him out.

Though Sharlotte supplied alibis for the attacks, neither stood up to scrutiny and he was convicted at trial last month.

“Both offences were so similar in nature that they supported each other. It has led to what will hopefully be a satisfactory result for the victims,” said Det Con Thompson.

“He was recorded on police systems but not for any offences of this type. It is strange for people to be assaulted in this manner by someone they don’t know, by total strangers. Those offences are very rare.”

He added: “It goes to show the work we do, day-in, day-out, for any offence, whether it is CCTV or house-to-house. Lots of times those won’t pay off, but occasionally the leg work does.

“Offences may be filed pending further information, but if that information comes in they are looked at again, we don’t just forget things.”