A PASTOR grabbed a women around the throat before straddling her in a vicious night attack.

Stephen Jay, 58, then returned to his car before performing a sex act on himself.

He was sentenced to two years imprisonment at Hove Crown Court yesterday for the offence of causing actual bodily harm..

At about 3am on August 14 last year, the 26-year-old victim was walking home alone after a night out in Brighton.

As she walked up Gerard Street she became aware of a man ducking behind cars as if trying to hide.

She confronted him and asked why he was following her.

She crossed Gerard Street on to the nearside pavement and was walking towards Ditchling Rise when Jay hit her in the face several times.

He then grabbed her throat and put his hand over her mouth as he straddled her whilst on the ground.

Concerned neighbours heard the screams and came to her aid.

They then gathered up her belongings that had fallen from her bag during the unprovoked attack.

A couple of days later the victim went to her bag and found that it contained a baseball cap she did not recognise.

This was sent off for analysis and was found to have Jay’s DNA within it.

Detective Inspector Mick Jones said: “Stephen Jay is a former town pastor from Ipswich who was training to be a life coach to provide help to those who need it including the vulnerable.

“His work as a town pastor meant that he used to work during evenings in the city centre of Ipswich proving support for those often found vulnerable through drink and drugs.

“He was also a prominent member of his local church.

“Far from protecting the vulnerable, this investigation has shown him to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

“He was someone who targeted a lone woman walking home in the early hours of the morning and violently assaulted her in an unprovoked attack.

“Jay admitted that during that evening leading up to the attack and the early hours of the morning immediately afterwards, he was having a sexual conversation with another woman who he was having an online affair with, discussing his liking for bondage, domination and sado-masochism.

“After the assault, he admitted masturbating in his car in a public place.

“I would urge anyone, no matter where they are from or how long ago the offence occurred, if they believe they are the victim of an assault, sexual or otherwise, to report it to police on 101.

“Your call will be handled sensitively and confidentially.”

Jay had been convicted of the attack in May at Lewes Crown Court, but the jury was hung on whether this assault was with intent to commit a sexual act.

After a retrial on the sexual element of the case at Brighton Crown Court in July a second jury was also unable to agree a verdict.

At his first trial in May, Jay had also been found not guilty of causing actual bodily harm and sexual assaulting a 21-year old woman walking in Hanover Terrace, Brighton on September 1.

Jay, of Wrights Lane, Kesgrave, Ipswich, will serve two years in prison.