University student who preyed on vulnerable drunk women jailed for Polegate rape

Tarling was jailed today for six years. Picture: Sussex Police
Tarling was jailed today for six years. Picture: Sussex Police

A university student raped a woman in Polegate as part of a ‘pattern’ of preying on drunk and vulnerable women.

Solomon Tarling showed no emotion as he was jailed today for his predatory crimes, which took place over a four year period.

Tarling, 22, of Common Lane in Laughton near Lewes, was convicted after a long trial in which his victims were forced to recount their traumatic experiences.

He was convicted of rape, sexual assault and assault by penetration and appeared at Lewes Crown Court this morning for sentencing.

Tarling texted two of the women after he attacked them saying he was remorseful, in an effort to stop them going to police, the court heard.

One of his victims said the trauma of giving evidence in court has left her experiencing nightmares and flashbacks.

Two of the offences took place in East Sussex, with another taking place in Sheffield where Tarling was at university, the court heard.

'Pattern of repeated offending'

Prosecutor Chris Hewertson said: “There is a pattern of repeated offending over four years which escalated after his arrest for rape.

“The use of alcohol to facilitate the later offences is central to the offending behaviour.”

In an emotional statement, one of Tarling’s victims told the court: “Before I was assaulted by Solomon Tarling I did not have the anxieties I now have.

“I am now nervous when it comes to developing friendships with men.

“Some of the closest friends I have are male and often I find I am worried if I am alone with one at a time.”

Survivor: 'I have been suffering from nightmares and flashbacks'

Another of Tarling’s victims – all of whom are entitled to lifetime anonymity by law – told the court how she has suffered from acute stress and depression as a result of the attack.

“In the wake of my appearing in court I have been suffering from nightmares and flashbacks.

“I want [Tarling] to know I will never forgive him for all the hurt he has caused me.”

Defence barrister says Tarling did not pre-plan his offending

Defence barrister David Emanuel QC said: “There was not pre-planning before [the offending] actually began, which might cast drinking in a different light.

“Yes he was part of the drinking with them that ended up with them being drunk but to ascertain that the use of alcohol was to facilitate that offence is very difficult for the crown to be sure of in this case.”

He cited Tarling’s young age at the time of the offences and his lack of previous convictions.

“He is capable of change. He wants to avoid putting himself, anyone else or his family through this again.

“He can be a force for good and that is his intention.”

Tarling took 'complete advantage' of the effects of alcohol

Sentencing Tarling, Recorder Mark Heywood QC said he took ‘complete advantage’ of the effects of alcohol.

Referring to the offence in Sheffield, he said: “It was clear that you knew quite how much she had consumed and that she was very obviously influenced by drink.”

Tarling was jailed for a total of six years.

He will be on the sex offenders’ register for life.

DC Lawrence: Tarling is a predatory sex offender

Detective Constable Andy Lawrence of the East Sussex safeguarding investigations unit said: “He is a predatory sex offender and the sentence of six years reflects the seriousness of his offending.

"We worked closely with South Yorkshire Police to support their investigation into the Sheffield offence which then formed part of this prosecution in Sussex.

“We are glad that the three victims came forward and gave evidence against Tarling. We will always investigate such reports, to support victims and to seek justice for them wherever possible.”