A young woman who was s3xually assaulted by a man she met outside a nightclub tracked him down on Facebook after he mentioned they had friends in common.
Chanel Purchase, 21, found the picture of 22-year-old James Huggett after trawling social media following the attack in April last year.
The man – who did not tell her his name – had offered to walk Miss Purchase home, but pinned her to the floor and tried to rape her just metres from her front door.
On Tuesday, Miss Purchase, from Sheerness, Kent, told how she believes combing Facebook helped bring her attacker to justice.
The young woman, who has waived her right to anonymity to warn others about the dangers women face, phoned police after the attack but immediately began her own investigations.
Although he did not tell her his name, and he does not have a Facebook account, the attacker spoke about their mutual friends which helped Miss Purchase track down the photograph.
She said: ‘It wouldn’t have been easy to confirm it was him and identify him if I hadn’t have found the picture so I think I helped solve the case.’
The attack took place after Miss Purchase had spent the evening out with friends at a nightclub close to her home. She had met Huggett outside who insisted that he walk her home.
She eventually agreed but, as they approached her house, Huggett pushed her to the ground and launched the assault, pulling down Miss Purchase’s underwear and attempting to rape her. When she struggled and screamed, he fled.
That night, Miss Purchase – who is planning to train as a midwife next year – called the police who immediately sent out officers to take a statement and DNA swabs.
Determined to see him swiftly brought to justice, Miss Purchase then trawled through social media in a bid to track him down.
After finding a photo of him, Miss Purchase informed police of his identity. Huggett, of Minster, Kent, was arrested the next day.
Speaking after his conviction last week at Maidstone Crown Court, she said: ‘I think he should get a few years. I will never feel safe if he was released.’
During the trial the jury heard a neighbour had been in bed when she heard a noise and looked outside to see what she thought was a scuffle between two people.
Prosecutor Simon Taylor said one was straddling the other and pinning them down. He said: ‘It was then that she saw the person on the ground was a female and heard her shout “get off me, and if you don’t get off me I’ll scream”.
The court heard how, when the woman screamed, the man ran off and the neighbour recognised the victim as Miss Purchase.
Huggett initially denied meeting the victim but then admitted seeing her outside the nightclub. He then claimed they cuddled
and kissed on the cheeks before he went home to change into jeans.
But he denied trying to rape the woman and said Miss Purchase had mistakenly identified him as her attacker.
He later said that he had given a false alibi – including to his legal team – because he did not want to involve his parents in the trial as they grieving from the death of their son Craig.
‘I lost my brother in a motorcycle accident and it was only a couple of months before this,’ he told the jury.”