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'Something didn't seem right' - young woman's narrow escape after assault on footpath by convicted rapist

PUBLISHED: 17:09 11 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:24 12 September 2019

Curtis Pizzey, pictured in 2012. Photo: Essex police

Curtis Pizzey, pictured in 2012. Photo: Essex police

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A young woman who escaped after being assaulted by a convicted rapist has spoken about the terrifying ordeal and how she fled to safety.

The Weavers Way crossing at Stepping Stone Lane in Stalham. Photo: GoogleThe Weavers Way crossing at Stepping Stone Lane in Stalham. Photo: Google

The 20-year-old was walking to work along Weavers Way in north Norfolk, between East Ruston and Stalham, in August when she was grabbed from behind by Curtis Pizzey, 30.

Having initially been walking ahead of her, she said his slow pace and lack of jacket or bag made him stand out.

As she walked behind him, passing an elderly couple, she began to get a creeping sense that all was not right.

"I caught up with him but I didn't really feel comfortable overtaking him, so I started falling behind," she said.

"Something in my head was saying 'this doesn't seem right'."

She said they reached a muddy intersection, used by tractors to cross from field to field, where he stopped.

"There's this massive maize field, and he was looking into the field, ducking his head in and that didn't seem right to me," she said.

"I was quite cautious. He then turned back on himself so he was walking towards me. I was relieved I wouldn't have to overtake him."

They said hello as they passed, and when she looked up the young woman said Pizzey was looking at her intently.

"I kept walking for roughly a minute, but I just had this feeling that something was going to happen," she said.

"Before I could even turn around he had grabbed me from behind, grabbed each side of my arms, near my shoulders, and had me in a bear hug."

She said he was "growling" in her ear, though, because of her headphones, she could not hear what he said.

Quickly, she elbowed him in the arm and managed to loosen his grip across her upper chest, pushing him off and screaming for help.

"He backed off and looked really shocked," she said. "He was edging backwards and I was too, but as I stopped screaming he had this really aggressive look and he started running towards me."

But she outpaced him, calling the police and her boyfriend, who lives nearby, for help.

As police rushed officers to the scene, her boyfriend arrived and with no sign of Pizzey, his victim said she began to feel safer.

"But I looked down Weavers Way again and saw him walking back up towards us," she said. "He spotted me and continued to walk, and then spotted my boyfriend and bolted again."

In a stroke of good luck, the young woman saw a police car attending an unrelated incident.

Officers sprang into action and Pizzey, of Sutton Road, Catfield, was arrested at the other end of Weavers Way.

Pizzey appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court the following day, August 23, pleading guilty to one charge of assault by beating. He was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison.

But, not yet knowing his name, it was not until a few days later than her mother discovered his past. In 2016, Pizzey left prison after raping a teenager in Basildon in 2012.

"I honestly didn't know how to react," she said. "I knew [because of the sentence] that he had done something bad before, but I didn't know what.

"It wasn't until a few hours later when all these thoughts were running through my head - what if he'd had a better grip? What if I had turned around sooner and he'd grabbed me from the front? I just broke down crying."

She said the similarity of circumstances in the two attacks had been most worrying, but said that, while her family were disappointed by the length of sentence, she understood the court was limited in what it could do.

"I just want people in Norfolk and people in my area to know about him and what he has done," she said. "This is my home. I felt safe here but I can't feel safe now."

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