Former town pastor from Kesgrave is convicted of late night attack on lone woman in Brighton

Stephen Jay, 58, from Kesgrave, has been convicted of assaulting a lone woman in Brighton. PIcture:

Stephen Jay, 58, from Kesgrave, has been convicted of assaulting a lone woman in Brighton. PIcture: SUSSEX POLICE - Credit: Archant

A former town pastor from Kesgrave described as a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ has been convicted of violently assaulting a lone woman in Brighton as she walked home after a night out.

Stephen Jay, 58, of Wrights Lane, was convicted after a trial at Lewes Crown Court in May, although the jury were hung on whether the assault was with the intention of committing a sexual act.

It comes just two years after Jay was cleared of sexually assaulting a teenager in Ipswich.

According to Sussex police, a 26-year-old woman was walking home along after a night out in Brighton at around 3am on Sunday, August 14, when she spotted a man ducking behind cars as if trying to hide.

She confronted Jay and asked him what he was doing and was then hit in the face a number of times.

A witness saw the attacker’s hand around the victim’s throat and another over her mouth as he straddled her while on the ground.

Neighbours heard the screams and rushed to the woman’s aid, gathering up belongings that had fallen out of her bag.

A few days later the victim discovered a baseball cap in her bag that did not belong to her. It was sent off for analysis and was found to have DNA from Stephen Jay on it.

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Investigating officer Detective Inspector Mick Jones from Sussex police 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 providing 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; 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.”

Jay was remanded in custody while psychiatric reports are prepared before sentencing on August 29.

Jay was originally charged with assaulting a person causing actual bodily harm, assaulting a female by penetrating part of her body and assault of a person causing actual bodily harm, although was only found guilty of the first charge.

DI Jones added: “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 was admitted into the town pastors in late 2006, and continued that work until 2014.

A spokesman from Town Pastors, the umbrella organisation which oversees the town pastor schemes in Suffolk and one in Norfolk, said: “The board of directors of Town Pastors (Central) are deeply saddened by this court case and our thoughts and prayers are very much with those who have been affected as a consequence.

“Town Pastors protocols are designed to protect people we meet in the course of our work.

“It is our policy to patrol in pairs (consisting of a male and female town pastor), and no individual town pastor is permitted to operate outside of this policy.

“Town pastors are Christians from any denomination.

“Our role is to help and show concern to anyone who requires assistance during the night time economy.

“Town pastors have patrolled Suffolk streets for more than ten years, and continue to offer support to those who need our help.”

The town pastors scheme involves Christians from all denominations.

John Howard, spokesman for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, confirmed Jay was not a CfE member, but had been part of the town pastors scheme previously.

Mr Howard said: “As a former leader of a church in Ipswich, that is not part of the Church of England, Steve Jay was a member of Ipswich town pastors.

“The town pastors are Christians from all denominations, including the Church of England, who volunteer to help anyone who needs assistance when out weekend nights in Ipswich town centre.

“Steve Jay had been part of the town pastors project from 2006 in Suffolk, whose procedures were designed to protect those receiving care from the pastors, and also the pastors themselves.

“This included always operating in a mixed-sex pair, and never alone.

“The impact on those effected by such crimes is devastating and as always our thoughts and prayers are with those most affected by such incidents”.

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