As we reported last week, Michael Belhawla attempted to abduct an eight-year-old girl as she walked home along Tidy Street at around 8:25am on 5th May. Police appealed for three witnesses to come forward by releasing video evidence they were near the scene of the crime moments before it took place.
A woman who Sussex Police were trying to trace has come forward to give evidence. Detectives still wish to trace two possible witnesses. A man wearing a black top and black shorts and woman accompanying him with long dark hair wearing an orange jacket.
Detective Inspector Lee Horner said “we would like to thank all the witnesses who have come forward s far. We would still like to hear from any other witnesses particularly the two people in the CCTV image on the corner of Tidy Street who many have information. Contact us on 101 or online quoting Operation Overdown.”
Michael Belhawla appeared at Brighton Magistrates Court on Wednesday 9th May. The Crown Prosecution Service authorised Belhawla’s charges. He was charged with attempted kidnap and attempted sexual assault by touching of an eight-year-old in Tidy Street. He was remanded in custody to appear at Lewes Crown Court on 6th June.
The official narrative given by police has been that as the young girl “turned the corner into Tidy Street, a man ran up and grabbed hold of her, pushing her to the ground but fortunately this was seen by two passers-by who shouted at him and he ran off in the direction of Trafalgar Street. The girl was severely shocked and sustained some grazes but did not need hospital treatment.”
Despite it being early in the morning, Brighton had 300,000 visitors last weekend so the likelihood of further witnesses is high. If you have any information pertaining to this crime call 101 or visit this page and quote Operation Overdown.