Man on trial for attempted murder of woman in Stoke Newington denies he followed her at 3am – says he was going swimming

Rectory Road and Evering Road were taped off after the attack. Picture: Zoah Hedges-Stocks

Rectory Road and Evering Road were taped off after the attack. Picture: Zoah Hedges-Stocks - Credit: Archant

A man accused of trying to kill a woman in a Stoke Newington street denies he followed her onto a bus at 3am – saying he was actually going swimming.

Sabir Mohammed Sharife, now 32, is on trial at the Old Bailey for attempted murder and sexual assault following the attack in April.

Earlier this week the court heard the victim recall having to beg for her life after being grappled to the ground in Rectory Road. She said she thought her attacker was trying to rape her before realising he wanted to hurt her when he held a knife to her throat, but she managed to get away and flag down a car.

The victim could not remember what the man looked like, or much of the incident, because she was drunk following a night out with friends at the Queen Adelaide pub in Hackney Road.

Prosecutor Sarah Campbell said the attack would “send a chill down the spine” of anyone who had travelled across London late at night.

After leaving the pub, the victim had got on the wrong bus before realising and getting off in Well Street, near Sharife’s home at the Shuttleworth Hostel.

Jurors were shown CCTV footage of Sharife, then 31, waiting outside the hostel when the victim walked past at about 2.50am. Twenty seconds later he followed her to the bus stop in Mare Street.

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Giving evidence he denied he had “taken an interest” in her and said he had decided to go to his brother’s near The Angel, so he could go swimming at the Virgin Active gym when it opened later that morning.

“It opens at 7.30am and I stay at my brother’s then go swimming,” he said. “I had my towel and boxer shorts in my JD Sports bag.”

Sharife got off the bus at the same stop as the victim, and they were then seen on CCTV holding hands.

He said: “I didn’t know she was drunk, I asked her if she had a boyfriend she told me ‘no’ and said she had come from a party and she was holding my hand.”

Sharife claims he carried on walking after the victim turned off and then waited 27 minutes for a 73 bus to The Angel before giving up and getting on another bus to go home.

Prosecutor Sarah Campbell accused him of spending the time getting rid of his bloodied jumper and the knife he used in the attack, which he denied.

“You went out that night with the specific purpose of sexually assaulting someone and hurting them if they resisted,” she said.

Tests found the victim’s blood on Sharife’s jeans, and when asked how it got there he said: “I think that must be something coming from [when we were] holding hands. It could be DNA.”

Sharife denies attempted murder, wounding with intent, sexual assault, committing an offence with intent to commit a sexual offence and possession of a bladed article.

The trial continues.