A woman who saved herself by karate-kicking two men who followed her home from a nightclub has said she feels complete relief after the pair were jailed.
Kelly Soutar, 29, told a court how Shehab Smekramuddin and Mohammad Islam, had followed her from a Forfar club towards her home in Angus, Scotland, before attacking her.
Kelly, who has a brown belt in karate, said her self-defence training kicked in allowing her to fight her attackers.
During a trial at Dundee Sheriff Court, prosecutor Eilidh Robertson told a jury: She admitted she punched one of the men – kicked him in the balls in her words.
A sheriff jailed the pair, who were both found to be illegal immigrants, for three years each – and they now face deportation to their native Bangladesh when their sentences expire.
Speaking outside court, Kelly said she hoped her story would encourage other women to take self-defence classes to allow them to stay safe.
Kelly, a member of Dundees Kanzen Karate club, said on Wednesday: I was wearing my karate club hoodie at the time – I wouldnt have started on me!
Im glad it is over with and its satisfying that they got a sentence and didnt get away with it.
It is a complete relief knowing they wont be able to do this to anyone else in this country. It makes it worth going through the whole thing and hopefully now I can get on with my life.
Kelly – who will compete in WUKF World Karate Championships in Dundee next month – added: A lot of people have got in touch with me to ask about karate groups and going to do self-defence classes and whether it is worth it.
It has raised awareness which is the main thing and I definitely think self-defence classes are worth it. Even just a little bit can give you confidence.
The trial heard how the pair was standing outside the Royal in Forfar town centre staring at her for a period of time before she left to walk home.
CCTV footage shown in court showed Kelly walking home with the two men following around 200 yards behind until she thought they had given up and disappeared, only to reappear 20 minutes later.
Islam, 28, approached outside a park close to her home and Smekramuddin, 59, leapt over a wall and grabbed her.
Speaking after the trial, she said: The younger one came towards me and I kneed him in the groin. When he came towards me again I punched him in the face.
At that point the guy who was holding me pushed me to the ground so I was flat on my stomach and the other one had come in and was breathing on my head.
I lifted my head. I dont which of the two I connected with but I just struggled.
We have been taught self-defence stuff in class, especially if you are down on the ground. Muscle memory took over and my body just reacted on its own.
I managed to dislodge the guy off my back and as soon as he was off balance I pushed him away and just ran.
Kelly fled to a friends home after the attack, which took place last September, where she turned into a complete emotional wreck and called the police, she said.
The trial heard that she still suffers panic attacks and struggles to go out on her own as a result of the attack.
Kelly said she was disappointed the intent to rape allegation was deleted by jurors, adding: If I hadnt got away as quickly as I did there might have been more evidence to support their intent but if I hadnt got away as quickly as I did – and the two of them had got hold of me – I might not have got away.
Islam and Smekramuddin denied a charge of assault with intent to rape.
After a three-day trial a jury found both men guilty of assault, with the allegation that they intended to rape the woman deleted from the charge.
Defence advocates for the pair said they had both left Bangladesh as political refugees and had been in the UK for years, both ending up working at an Indian restaurant in Forfar where they met.
Sheriff Linda Smith jailed them for three years each and said: At the trial I heard the victim – the young woman assaulted by you – give evidence and have seen the effects your involvement in this matter has had on her.
It is clear that the jury convicted you of assaulting this young woman, who was followed and then attacked on her way home from a night out.