East Ham man jailed after ‘sexually-motivated’ attacks

A would-be sex attacker from East Ham who targeted lone elderly women has been locked up for seven years.

Joseph Lawler, 41, broke into two flats late at night last December occupied by pensioners in their 80s and 90s.

One of the victims was so frightened she is now living with her daughter.

Lawler, of Denbigh Road, was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court after he was convicted of trespass with intent to commit a sexual offence following a trial in June.

He had previously admitted two counts of burglary and common assault.

The court heard Lawler, armed with a hammer, kicked open the door of one flat in East Ham at about 3am on December 17.

He entered the victim’s bedroom and grabbed her shoulder to wake her up. She grabbed her commode and tried to throw it at Lawler but he pushed her back.

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The assailant then escaped and the victim contacted police.

Six days later, at 9pm on December 23, Lawler broke the window at another East Ham flat. He crept up on the victim from from behind as she looked out the window to see what the noise was.

He startled her and then demanded money.

The victim hit out at Lawler, who pushed her back onto the sofa and threatened to rape her. He then climbed on top of her.

She screamed for help, alerting members of the public who were passing her house. They knocked on the window, causing the attacker to flee the scene.

They knocked on the window which scared Lawler and he fled.

The court heard police enquiries led to the identification of Lawler as a suspect. He matched the description given by the victims.

A sock, and a pair of boxer shorts were found inside in and around his victim’s homes.

A search of his own premises uncovered a large hidden collection of pornographic DVDs featuring women aged between 55 and 75. He was subsequently charged.

Speaking after the sentencing on July 2, Det Insp Andy Furphy, from Newham police, said: “Lawler was sexually motivated in his attacks with a fascination towards elderly women and I have no doubt he would have struck again.

“These attacks had a devastating impact on the lives of the victims.”