Jail for man who assaulted teen girl in town centre

Zeshan Akhtar
Zeshan Akhtar

A man has been sentenced to seven years after sexually assaulting a teen girl in Bedford town centre.

Zeshan Akhtar, 35, approached a teenage girl on 16 August last year after she was helping another person who she had found unconscious in a flowerbed outside of Boots.

She had called the police for help but Akhtar saw her distressed state as an opportunity to approach the victim and seemingly offer support.

Email sign up form: https://www.bedfordindependent.co.uk/newsletter-sign-up/Instead, he led her away from the situation and after chatting with her tried to kiss her.

She resisted and said no, but he refused to let her answer her phone and threatened to take it from her if she didn’t do as he said.

In an attempt to get away from Akhtar, she told him her age and even offered him her mobile phone number. He ignored her.

When she tried to run away, Akhtar grabbed her and sexually assaulted her.

He then walked her home holding her hand before sexually assaulting her again just a few yards from her home.

Akhtar, of Wavendon Gate, Milton Keynes, was sentenced at Luton Crown Court last week (5 May) after being found guilty of two counts of sexual assault and one count of assault by penetration.

DC Katie Tavener, from Bedfordshire Police’s Rape and Serious Sexual Assault (RASSO) team, said: “No woman or girl should ever be made to feel scared and helpless.

“Akhtar took advantage of a situation to sexually assault a vulnerable young girl. When she said no, he ignored her, and no will always mean no.

“The victim showed true bravery by coming forward and reporting what had happened.

“We understand this can be difficult to talk about, but if you have been a victim, please report it. We have a number of highly experienced and trained officers and support services here to help. If you are ready to talk, we are here to listen.”

Bedfordshire Police recently launched a significant focus on tackling perpetrators of male violence against women and girls (MVAWG) called Project Firefly.

Read: Bedford Town Centre Police operation will tackle male violence against women and girls

As a force, their officers are working with partners to support and improve women’s safety across the county.

The project started in Bedford and will soon be rolled out across the county to make sure women don’t have to face unwanted and unacceptable behaviour in places such as bars and clubs.

If you want to report any instance of rape or sexual assault call 101, or 999 in an emergency. You can also report online or visit our advice pages for more information.

Bedfordshire Victim Care Services also offer free and confidential support, whether a crime has been reported or not.

The experienced staff and volunteers know what emotions and challenges victims may be going through and are specially trained to listen and give help and advice.

They also work with a range of specialist organisations and community support groups and can make referrals to help victims on their journey.

You can also contact Bedfordshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) the Emerald Centre by visiting the website, emailing info@emeraldcentre.org or calling 01234 897052.

They offer free support and practical help to anyone in Bedfordshire and Luton who has experienced sexual violence and/or sexual abuse.

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