A Sussex man has been jailed for violent sex attacks on two women - one of whom he tried to strangle during a first date after meeting her via Facebook.
Neil Scott-O’Connor, 23, a household appliance engineer, was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment at Hove Crown Court today (January 17).
Police say he was convicted after earlier pleading not guilty to six offences against a 29-year-old woman at an address in Brighton; one offence of threats to kill, one of attempted strangulation with intent to commit a sexual offence, two offences of causing actual bodily harm, and one of harassment with intent to cause fear.
He had also earlier denied three offences against a 17-year-old girl from Crawley; one offence of attempted strangulation with intent to commit a sexual offence and two of causing actual bodily harm.
He was found not guilty of one offence of causing actual bodily harm to the 29-year-old woman.
Police say Scott-O’Connor, from Partridge Green, will have to serve 11 years and four months before being eligible to apply for parole, and will have a to serve a further four years on extended prison licence supervision whenever he is released.
He will also be a registered sex offender for life.
The prosecution followed an investigation by detectives from both a West Sussex Investigations team and the Brighton Safeguarding Investigations Unit.
Police say Scott-O’Connor had his own business as an emergency appliance repair man, driving around Sussex fixing appliances in houses or in businesses.
Police first became aware of Scott-O’Connor’s offending when the 17-year-old woman came forward.
A spokesman said: “She had extensive bruising on her body and reported that she had been strangled almost to the point of unconsciousness by someone she had met on Facebook, during their first date.
“This man was Scott-O’Connor. He was arrested in December 2018 and was released on bail whilst an investigation began.
“The scope of his sexualised offending soon became apparent when the 29-year-old woman from Brighton then came forward reporting similar attacks and non-consensual strangulation during their short relationship.
“She too had photographs of extensive bruising and injuries inflicted by him.
“When the relationship ended Scott-O’Connor made multiple threats to the victim which included him threatening to burn her house down, to cut the brake lines on her car, and shoot her and her young son.
“Fearing he was capable of carrying out these threats she immediately reported him to police.
“He was further arrested and interviewed during which he continued to deny any wrong doing.
“Officers conducted a thorough examination of his mobile phone and revealed a wealth of information including an Amazon shopping list of weapons and restraints, hundreds of screenshots of female Facebook profiles and the purchase of tracking devices.
“His Internet search history raised concern further, as did his choice of horror movies depicting rape and torture.”
Detective Sergeant Andy Ricks said: “I am extremely pleased with this result. My team had worked tirelessly to build a solid evidential case against Scott-O’Connor who clearly posed a significant risk, luring his victims into relationships through charm and flattery, in one case via social media, then turning to violence and fear to act out his dark sexual fantasies.
“His obsession with strangulation was a common feature in the investigation and it’s only by good fortune that one of his victims was not killed.
“As counsel for the prosecution, Richard Hearndon said of Scott-O’Connor: ‘...during strangulation he literally had their life in his hands.’
“We would also like to thank the victims for having the courage to come forward and supporting us in putting this dangerous offender behind bars.”