A man has been sentenced to eight years imprisonment with a three-year extended licence after he attempted to strangle a woman the day after he was released from prison. Ashley Banks, 35, of no fixed abode, was sentenced on Wednesday (March 1) at St Albans Crown Court.
The court heard that Banks sexually assaulted a woman on numerous occasions, before punching her repeatedly in the face and putting his arms around her throat in a Letchworth Garden City property last year. He was given eight years imprisonment for sexual assault by penetration.
He was also given six years for another sexual assault by penetration and 12-months for non-fatal strangulation – which will run concurrently – in addition to 14-months each for two counts of sexual assault by touching. Banks will also concurrently serve six months for racially aggravated public order, four months for actual bodily harm (ABH), two months for assault by beating and a month for assaulting an emergency worker.
The 35-year-old was the second person in the county to be charged with non-fatal strangulation and suffocation on Friday, July 8, using new legislation – which became a criminal offence on June 7, 2022 – and sexual and physical abuse after a two-day trial in December 2022.
“Banks is a danger to women,” said Investigator Lauren Shelley who led the case. “The victim was subjected to brutal sexual assaults. This was a sustained attack on a vulnerable woman, and it was sheer luck that the victim didn’t sustain any serious injuries – strangulation, even momentarily is extremely perilous.”
Banks proceeded to assault a member of the public who intervened during his violent attack on the victim. When he was arrested that day, he kicked a police officer and was racially abusive towards another.
Investigator Lauren Shelley continued: “We are pleased that Banks has been convicted and has received a substantial sentence to safeguard women from his torrent of abuse. The victim was absolutely terrified of Banks and feared for her life that day.
“Our priority was to safeguard her from further harm. She has been supported by police alongside partner agencies and I hope this sentence brings her some comfort as she continues to rebuild her life following this horrific incident.
“Following her frightening ordeal, she was understandably unable to support a police investigation, but due to the seriousness of the offences, that didn’t stop us from investigating independently and we gathered enough evidence, including CCTV footage, to bring him before the courts.
“Banks showed absolutely no remorse throughout the trial and the victim left the area ahead of the trial as she feared for her life in case he was released. The impact of his actions last year have left her fearful to leave her house.”
HHJ Sandeep Kainth described Banks as ‘dangerous’ and added the three-year extended licence to protect other women from his predacious behaviour during the court hearing.