Migrant who tried to sexually assault drunk student jailed

Merwais Nasiri, travelled from Afghanistan after his father was killed by the Taliban
CCTV showed Merwais Nasiri prowling the city centre looking for potentially vulnerable women, the court heard

A small boat migrant who tried to sexually assault a drunk student in an alleyway has been jailed for more than five years.

Merwais Nasiri, 25, who had been housed in a hotel in Exeter by the Home Office, spotted a 20-year-old woman sitting opposite a nightclub semi-conscious with her head in her arms.

Nasiri, originally from Afghanistan, stayed with her for an hour and a quarter, even pretending to help her when a street pastor came to check on the woman’s welfare.

He then waited and carried her into an alley before moving a large commercial bin to block the entrance.

In a victim impact statement, the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “[The incident] has left me feeling violated and abused. There is no excuse for what he did to me. The effect will stay with me for a long time.”

She continued: “I felt dirty and disgusted when I saw the alley. When I saw the way he tried to conceal me in the alley I was mortified.”

The victim was rescued by two bouncers who were alerted by a worker at a nearby takeaway who had spotted Nasiri abducting her. They moved the bin and found Nasiri on top of the woman.

CCTV footage showed him with his arm around her, holding her up, and trying to move her twice before he succeeded in manhandling her into the alley.

Earlier footage showed him prowling the city centre looking for potentially vulnerable women.

‘One thing on your mind’

The doorman made a citizen’s arrest before Nasiri had a chance to carry out a sexual assault but the kidnap has had a massive effect on the victim, who has struggled to complete her university studies and abandoned her original plans for her career because she feels insecure. She has now moved back home.

The woman had no memory of what had happened to her but was traumatised when she found out and had to undergo medical checks at a sexual assault clinic, which she found “horrible, intrusive and unpleasant”.

Judge Stephen Climie praised the courage of the victim and told Nasiri: “This case is not about you. It is about a young woman of 20 who gave evidence before this court, which demonstrated not just intelligence and composure but extraordinary dignity.”

Nasiri denied kidnap and intent to commit asexual assault but was found guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court following a trial in January.

Daniel Pawson-Pounds, defending, argued there was nothing to suggest Nasiri planned to rape the woman and neither had their clothing undone when the door staff intervened.

But the judge continued: “She had been drinking and required assistance but that was the last thing on your mind. Having watched the CCTV, the one thing on your mind during that hour and a quarter was sexual activity.”

He was jailed for five and a half years with a four-year extended licence and placed on the sex offenders register for life.