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Man guilty of attacking female dog walkers in East Lancashire

|News, Violent crime

A 53-year-old homeless man has pleaded to attacking two women in East Lancashire.

Joseph Eccles assaulted one woman and wounded another woman as they walked their dogs in November last year.

On the 5 Nov 2021 at 10am a woman was walking her two dogs on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in the direction of Barrowford Locks. 

Joseph Eccles walked towards her, forcing her to walk closer to the edge of the canal. As they passed one another he swung his arm in her direction, causing her to believe he was trying to push her into the canal. He then carried on walking away from her.

The following day at 10am a woman was walking her two dogs on Slipper Hill Road in Colne, when Eccles verbally abused her from a nearby field. As she quickly walked away, he jumped over a wall, picked up a large branch and hit her on the back of her head with such force the branch snapped. The woman fell to the floor bleeding from a 5cm wound to her head which required stitches. A passer-by came to her assistance as Eccles ran away along an unused railway line.

He was arrested a short time later on the Leeds Liverpool canal. He denied being responsible for the attacks, but on the first day of the trial at Preston Crown Court he admitted he had carried out the assaults and pleaded guilty to assault and wounding with intent.

Jim Mowbray for the CPS said: "Joseph Eccles carried out terrifying attacks in broad daylight on two woman as they walked alone with their dogs. 

"We worked closely with the police to build a strong case against him, leaving Eccles with no choice but to plead guilty to both offences, even though at the final hour on the first day of the trial.

"I would like to thank both women for coming forward and supporting the prosecution case. I hope today's conviction will help them to move on with their lives.

"All women have the right to go about their daily lives without fear of violence. The CPS is committed to bringing offenders who commit violent crimes against women to justice."

Notes to editors

  • Jim Mowbray is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West.

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