A sex attacker who snatched a schoolgirl from the street is starting 10 years behind bars – after being trapped by his shoe.
Stalker Martin Hedley was hooded and masked when he followed his terrified teenage victim, grabbed her and tried to drag her to a secluded spot.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton believed Hedley – who fled the scene when two men heard the girl’s screams – would have raped her.
But he was caught after police recovered one of his shoes, which came off in his desperate haste to get away.
The 34-year-old ‘lacked confidence with the opposite sex’ and resented the way he had been treated by women in the past, Teesside crown court heard.
On the day of the attack in January, Hedley argued with a female friend, and spent hours boozing in a pub.
Afterwards he disguised himself with a paintball-style mask and pink rubber gloves, selected a victim and stalked her for almost a mile.
Thinking she was being followed, the girl tried to lose him, crossing roads in well-lit areas, said Paul Abrahams, prosecuting.
But Hedley waited till she approached a footbridge over a railway line in Shildon, Co Durham, and grabbed her.
The pair fell over and he told her to be quiet, but as he dragged her off, with his hand over her mouth, the girl started to scream.
A couple at a dance studio and a man watching TV at his nearby home heard the cries and rushed to the scene.
Hedley fled but left behind a vital clue – his right shoe, a distinctive burgundy slip on shoe with a ‘Ben Sherman’ silver buckle.
Chris Baker, mitigating, said the defendant had no memory of the evening, so it could not be said what he had in mind.
Hedley, of Byerley Road, Shildon, Co Durham, admitted kidnap and committing an offence with intent to commit a sexual offence and was jailed for 10 years.
It was difficult to assess his risk because he had never been in trouble, but alcohol was a major problem, according to a psychiatric report prepared for the court.
Mr Baker added: “It is accepted it is of a very serious and disturbing nature, but it is his first conviction . . . there are underlying issues.
“You don’t commit this type of offence without underlying problems. It seems there’s a lack of confidence around women and to a certain extent resentments.”
Judge Bourne-Arton described him as a danger to the public.
He ruled that he should serve an extended five years on licence, and go on the sex offenders’ register for life.
He added: “You planned this offence. You were prepared, it’s obvious. You got a disguise, a terrifying disguise. You were hooded up and were wearing goggles. You pose a significant risk of carrying out serious harm to members of the public.”
The mother of Hedley’s victim said after the case: “I don’t even want to think what could have occurred if those three people had not heard her scream. She might literally owe them her life.”
Durham Police praised the bravery of the people who ran to help the victim.
Det Constable Natalie Horner said: “I want to say a massive ‘thank-you to all the witnesses. And a special thanks to the three people who came to the aid of the victim.
“They saved her from what would have been an even more sinister incident.”