11:26am Friday 11th February 2011
By David Strand
A SEX attacker jailed indefinitely after he dragged a woman under an underpass in Blackburn has won an appeal against the open-ended sentence.
Ikram Ayub Surgan, 27, was given imprisonment for public protection, which is almost identical to a life sentence, at Preston Crown Court last August after admitting sexual assault.
The Indian national moved to the UK just 18 months before the attack and his deportation upon release was also recommended by the crown court judge.
But judges sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court yesterday ruled that Surgan was wrongly classified as a “dangerous offender”.
They replaced the sentence with a standard four-year jail term, of which he will serve half before qualifying for automatic release.
The court heard that Surgan attacked his victim at about 1.30am on April 4 last year, when she was in Blackburn town centre on a night out with friends.
As the 23-year-old woman walked alone from one pub to another to meet her friends, texting one of them on the way, Surgan followed her.
He grabbed her from behind and dragged her to a secluded area in Astley Gate, near the Mincing Lane multi-storey car park entrance.
The victim tried to use her mobile phone, but it fell as she struggled with her attacker.
Two police officers on patrol went to her aid after hearing her screams and, as he saw them approach, Surgan fled the scene.
One of the officers chased him and he was arrested nearby.
The court heard that Surgan was a tailor’s apprentice in India and worked at a clothing store in Preston after moving to the UK in late 2008.
He was unable to explain why he carried out the attack, but a probation officer said his reluctance was possibly due to his cultural unfamiliarity with the British justice system.
Mr Justice Wilkie, sitting with Lord Justice Thomas and Mrs Justice Macur, told the court that Surgan’s family had disowned him after his arrest.
Surgan’s lawyers said the open-ended jail term was “excessive”, arguing that the crown court judge didn not take enough account of the probation officer’s comments about his cultural difference when assessing the level of risk he posed to the public.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group