A WELLINGTON kebab shop worker has been jailed for eight years after sexually assaulting a young woman late at night in the town almost exactly 12 months ago.

Mirzabek Toshpulatov, aged 21, attacked and sexually assaulted the woman in the White Hart Lane area during the early hours of Sunday, February 26, 2023.

The woman managed to free herself from him and run away and call the police to report what had happened to her.

A media appeal seeking witnesses was issued by police later that day which helped investigating officers identify Toshpulatov as the perpetrator, but by then he had fled the area.

Toshpulatov was also captured on local CCTV moments before he attacked the woman, who had been with a group of girls who walked past him

He was subsequently arrested in Essex in October, 2023.

Toshpulatov, who was previously living in North Street, Wellington, was sentenced in Taunton Crown Court, which was temporarily sitting in the North Somerset Courthouse, in Worle, due to renovation work.

He received an extended sentence of 11 years and three months, of which the final three years will be served on licence, after pleading guilty to sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault by touching.

Toshpulatov, believed to be from Uzbekistan, in central Asia, was continuing to work in the UK after his visa had expired.

He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life, meaning he must inform police of whereever he is living.

In a statement read to the court, the woman said the sexual assault had made her feel ‘unsafe when walking anywhere’.

She said: “In the early hours of the morning I was attacked following a night out.

“I was sexually assaulted. When I ran off, I was trying to call for help but no one heard me.

“The day after it happened, I felt so overwhelmed in trying to understand what had happened to me.

“Everything we did for the investigation was a new experience for me and I did not know what would happen from it.

“It was a lot to come to terms with, and I am still trying to process this now.

“Not only has this left life-long lasting effects on me, but also my family.

“They worry about me wherever I go, and fear this could happen again to me, themselves, or anyone else.”

DC Natalie Norman, who investigated the case, said: “Incidents of sexual assault are incredibly rare in Wellington and for it to have been committed by a stranger is even more unusual.

“We would like to recognise the courage the woman showed in reporting this to police and helping us focus on bringing this dangerous offender to justice.

“Had she not done so, Toshpulatov would still be on the streets.

“This incident was treated very seriously from the second it was reported to us and the positive response from the public to the witness appeal made a massive difference to helping us identify Toshpulatov and tracking his movements to Essex.

“The impact on the victim has been significant and we would remind anybody with concerns around safety to please make us aware via the StreetSafe tool, which sees us work with other agencies to identify areas of concern and assist us with planning when and where to carry out high-visibility patrols.

“We welcome the significant custodial sentence Toshpulatov has received for the horrific crimes he committed last year.

“We hope this result gives confidence to all victims of sexual abuse that you will be believed and shows we will work tirelessly to get sexual predators into court so they can be dealt with robustly.”

Police said victims of rape or sexual assault, whether recent or not, could self-refer to The Bridge, a sexual assault referral centre available 24/7 all year round, by visiting its website here or by calling 0117 342 6999

Details of charities and organisations with expertise in supporting victims was also available here.

Anybody who feels unsafe in a public place can also report it via the StreetSafe tool found here.

The tool helps to inform the approach of police to protecting women and girls and allows officers and partner agencies to target particular areas of concern.