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Oxford student Ione Wells's attacker detained for sex attack

Ione Wells Image copyright Instagram/Ione Wells
Image caption Ione Wells said the response to her letter "transformed' her experience

A teenager has been detained for a sex attack on a student who published an open letter about her ordeal.

Oxford University student Ione Wells, 20, was attacked as she walked home near Camden last month.

A 17-year-old, who cannot be named, was sentenced at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court to two years' youth detention.

He was told he would serve half his sentence on licence after he admitted sexual assault, at an earlier hearing.

The teenager will also be put on the sex offenders register for five years.

'Tainted and violated'

During the hearing, the court heard, he grabbed Ms Wells from behind and pushed her to the ground, smashing her head against the pavement.

He then grabbed at her chest with such force that it tore her bra in half.

In a victim impact statement, Ms Wells said the attack was the most traumatic experience of her life and had left her feeling "tainted and violated".

She said she also suffered flashbacks and heard the sound of footsteps.

Image copyright Ione Wells
Image caption Ione Wells publicised her experience to promote the #NotGuilty campaign

In mitigation, the 17-year-old's defence lawyer said the teenager "deeply regrets" the attack and was "willing to prove" it would be his last.

But the judge ruled the attack was so serious, with long-term psychological consequences for Ms Wells, that a period of detention was needed.

Ms Wells, who waived her right to anonymity to speak about the attack, first published the defiant letter to her attacker in student paper the Cherwell.

She said the positive feedback she received in response had "transformed" an "incredibly hurtful" experience.

In it, she wrote: "My community will not feel we are unsafe walking back home after dark. We will get on the last Tube home, and we will walk up our streets alone, because we will not ingrain or submit to the idea that we are putting ourselves in danger in doing so.

"Your community - even if you can't see it around you every day. It is there. It is everywhere."

Following the attack and publication of her letter, Ms Wells initiated the #NotGuilty campaign, which argues victims in sexual assault cases should never be blamed.

The Crown Prosecution Service said Ms Wells had "shown real courage throughout this case, this was a terrifying attack which no one should have to experience".

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