"She thought she was going to be raped and killed."
Muhammad Hussain, aged 29, of Pitsmoor, Sheffield, was jailed for committing a sex attack on a woman.
Sheffield Crown Court heard he began following the woman after she unintentionally made eye contact with him as she walked down The Wicker on March 12, 2019, at 5 pm.
The young woman first became aware that she was being followed as she began to cross the Cobweb Bridge. She heard the sound of someone running up behind her.
Megan Rhys, prosecuting, said: “She describes it as being strange as if someone was trying to scare her. He grabbed her from behind.”
Hussain then sexually assaulted her and put his hand over her mouth.
Ms Rhys added: “He tried to put a carrier bag in her mouth. She struggled, at which point he put both arms around her and tried to pull her away.
“She grabbed at the railings to try and stop him. She thought she was going to be raped and killed.”
Hussain continued to try and pull the victim away.
A passing man forced Hussain off the woman, shouting at him to “stop” before pushing him away from her.
Another man who was jogging also tried to intervene.
Hussain soon ran away. The first man walked the woman to her car while she called the police.
The victim read a statement in court, in which she talked about the impact the sex attack has had on her.
“I know this incident will remain with me throughout my life. I still can’t believe someone would think it was acceptable to attack me in this way.
“I didn’t think I would ever get away. I was absolutely terrified.”
The woman referred to her religion and stated:
“I believe this monster picked me in the hope I would not tell anyone in fear of bringing shame on my family.”
“I am determined not to let this beat me.”
Ms Rhys explained that the police looked at CCTV footage which showed Hussain, who has a “distinctive gait”, following the woman shortly after coming out of his workplace.
She said: “As a result, police attended and showed staff the CCTV. Staff were not forthcoming, saying they had agency staff and that it could be one of them.
“It transpired that they were family members of the defendant’s.”
Ms Rhys described the woman as “vulnerable” because she was on her own and in an isolated location when she was attacked.
Hussain initially told his wife, mother and the police that he was attacked by a woman while waiting at a bus stop on The Wicker. He later followed her to ask for an apology.
He eventually pleaded guilty to a sexual assault charge at an earlier hearing.
Michael Walsh, defending Hussain, explained that his client denied selecting the woman as his victim because of “her membership to a particular racial group”.
He added: “The defendant made a series of foolish, and what became, criminal decisions.”
However, Judge David Dixon agreed with the woman’s suggestion that Hussain attacked her because he assumed she was less likely to report him due to her faith.
He told Hussain: “You saw her and decided you were going to offend against her. You followed her for some time.
“In my judgement, you were trying to find the right location, where she would be isolated and out of the way of others.
“This was gratuitous violence on a young woman. You will serve an extended sentence of nine years.”
Muhammad Hussain was jailed for five years. The Sheffield Telegraph reported that he was sentenced to an extended licence period of another four years due to the danger Judge Dixon believes he poses to the public.