Wed, 09 May 2012
A schoolgirl raped on Christmas Day by a Walsall soldier who had recently returned from Afghanistan has told how her life has become a living nightmare.
Private Luke Sargent, aged 21, pounced as the victim walked her dog in Walsall, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
Sargent, who was today beginning a six-year jail sentence, had returned from the front line two months before the attack.
He threatened to kill the terrified teenager.
In a statement read to court the 15-year-old victim said: “This has turned my life upside down. Not a day goes by when I do not think about it.
“I suffer from anxiety and nightmares. I phone my mum or boyfriend when I hear someone behind me in the street. I used to be bubbly and outgoing but I have lost all my confidence. Luke Sargent has ruined my life and taken away my childhood.”
Her mother added: “He has taken away my little girl. I suffer flashbacks when I hear her crying. I know that every Christmas Day will never be the same for my daughter or my family. It sticks in my mind that she had told him she was only 15.”
Private Sargent, from Winterley Lane, Rushall, had served with the 3rd Battalion of The Mercian Regiment and was at home on leave when he attacked his victim. He had fired 26 times at the enemy during six months on the front line of Afghanistan and had also helped to treat four wounded comrades during the fighting before returning home last October.
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard Sargent offered to pay the victim, a complete stranger to him, £500 “for a good time” as they passed in the street at 5.15pm on Christmas evening.
Prosecutor Sarah Buckingham told the court that she ignored the comment and pretended to phone her boyfriend. The infantryman, who had been drinking, grabbed the mobile from her before pushing her to the ground and putting his hands around her throat, the court was told.
Richard Davenport, defending, told the court: “We will never know whether his experiences in Afghanistan led him down this route.”
Click to view the profile for Sarah Buckingham - Prosecuting