Two arrested in Cathays assults

Two men have been arrested in connection with assaults on the streets of Cathays.

Last week two separate incidents were reported in the early hours of Sunday morning involving Cardiff University students who were walking home alone from the Students’ Union after club night ‘Flux’.

One student was assaulted and another harassed by a man trying to force entry to her house.

In the first incident, a student, who did not wish to be named, was attacked on Brithdir Street while walking home after a shift in Y Plas.

Recalling the event she said: “I was walking back on my own and I made eye contact with a guy who then started following me.

“I rang my brother and spoke to him on the phone in Welsh as I thought the guy following me wouldn’t understand.

“As I got on to my road the guy attacked me from behind and I screamed extremely loudly but was hit.”

The student was grabbed and assaulted before managing to escape attacker and find her brother. The two of them then walked to her house on Brithdir Street where they rang the police.

A witness had also alerted the authorities and a suspect matching both the witness and the victim’s description was identified shortly after the incident occurred in the early hours of Sunday 1st February.

The victim commended the efforts of the police, adding: “I went to the station and gave a statement and the police were amazing despite the fact they had been bombarded with cases that night and they had to spill some cases to the Merthyr branch.”

South Wales Police were able to confirm that the man in question, Alex Joni, has since been charged with harassment and assault.

The 19 year old from the Newport area has been remanded in custody and will appear before Cardiff Magistrates on 19th February.

In a separate incident on 1st February, a female student reported walking from the Students’ Union to Woodville Fishbar where she left her flatmates to walk home.

She said: “As I turned the corner I saw a young man talking to a couple of lads and thought nothing of it until he began following me at an uncomfortably close distance.”

As she approached her front door on May Street the man proceeded to overtake her and turn towards her.

When she started to unlock the door he then told her he was coming in with her – a statement she quickly contested.

“I had just stepped into my house and was just about to start shutting the door when he put his foot inside my house making it impossible to shut the door. I asked him to move his foot and told him again that he was not coming in.”

Despite her resistance, the man persisted in his attempts to force entry to the house, requesting that the victim remained quiet.

It was only when the victims’ housemates returned that the man eventually fled the scene.

“He shoved the door against me and began to walk away.”

The student reported the incident to the police and a suspect has since been taken into custody and is currently under investigation for a separate attack on a woman the previous week.

In reference to the incident on Brithdir Street, Student Liaison Officer, Police Constable Mike Neate, said: “This was a very distressing experience for the victim.

“We will not tolerate any behaviour such as this and we are grateful to members of the public who provided us with information both at the time and later.

“Swift action by local police officers led to an arrest of a suspect within two hours.  He has been remanded in custody and will appear before the Court later this month.

“Anyone with any information concerning this incident is asked to contact the police on 101 and quote reference 1500036261.”

Looking back on the event, the victim spoke of her how confidence has been “shattered”, adding: “Now I really have to consider the direction in which I walk home and I have to plan exactly how and whom I walk with.”

“I thought Cathays was really safe but this incident just highlights the importance of taking precautions when walking home.”

These incidents are not the first of their kind; in recent months students have reported a number of similar incidents in the area.

A third year ENCAP student reported to have been “kerb-crawled” after leaving work at the Students’ Union in the early hours at the end of last semester.

The student spoke of how she was walking towards her house on Rhymney Street when a man in a car began to follow her.

“He wound down his window and repeatedly offered to drive me home. When I ignored him he became angry.

“After asking him to leave me alone, he drove away but not before stopping half way down the road and reversing as if to follow me again, before eventually driving off.”

“I was so scared that I hid from the car and ran home by an alternative route.”

The student reported that the event has left her “apprehensive” about walking home alone at night, adding: “It’s no secret that Cathays has an issue with theft, but, until now, I have never felt threatened whilst walking through the area.”

Following these reports, Student Liaison Officer, Fran Richards, stressed the importance of students looking after friends on a night out.

“Make sure you go home together and don’t walk alone. If you lose your friends then speak to the door staff.”

Richards recommended that students pre-book taxis and make use of  ‘Panic Guard’, a mobile app which is able to send text messages to designated numbers with your GPS location should you activate it.

Speaking about the app, which has free and paid versions with different functions, Richards added: “It will help students to feel safer if they find themselves walking alone, or getting a taxi alone.”

“Our best advice is to take care of each other. If you have to walk somewhere alone at night, do not use rear lanes or shortcuts, stick to main roads which are better lit and have CCTV cameras on.”

“It is also extremely important that anything suspicious is reported to the police. If we do not know about these situation then it is difficult to do our job.”

“If you think a situation is ‘not right’ then it is worth reporting.”

Following the incident involving a member of union staff, A Cardiff University Students’ Union spokesperson stressed that they “have always taken staff safety seriously both during and after work, and encourage our employees to walk home in groups wherever possible.”

“Following the incident on Saturday night, relevant departments will be speaking with their student staff about this issue and the provision of transport. A late night transport service did exist around 8 years ago but it came to a natural end as student staff didn’t feel the need to use it.

“Necessary action will be taken based on any feedback received from our current staff.”

For students generally the Students’ Union operates a ‘Safe Taxi Scheme’ to ensure students get home safely at night.

If students do not have the money to get a taxi home they can call Dragon Taxis on 02920 33 33 33 and quote ‘Cardiff University Safe Taxi Scheme’ with their name and student number. The fare can then be paid at the Students’ Union Finance Office at a later date.