A fearless young woman who tricked a murderer into leaving DNA evidence on a cigarette butt after he tried to strangle her is up for a national bravery award.
Jessica Price, 23, was attacked by evil Carl Powell in an alley in Nottingham in 2011 after he pounced on her as she walked home from a night-out with friends.
He wrapped his hands around her neck after jumping her from behind and started choking her before dragging her through the gates of a college and pushing her onto the ground.
Chilling CCTV images show the moment Powell dragged Jessica by the arm on a deserted street moments before he forced her hand down his pants.
But, despite her terrifying ordeal, Jessica managed to remain calm and persuaded Powell to let her go and even pretended to like him so he would let his guard down.
Incredibly, Jessica, who waived her anonymity, managed to charm Powell by pretending she liked him.
She managed to persuade him to smoke a cigarette which she knew would contain his DNA.
After he dropped the butt on the ground, Jessica made a mental note where it was.
As the pair were getting closer to Jessica parent’s home in Carlton, Notts., Powell was distracted by a phone call and he said he had to leave.
As soon as he disappeared into the darkness she called police and told them where to find Powell’s cigarette butt.
The DNA matched that of Powell and he was arrested and charged three days later.
Not only did the police charge Powell for the attack on Jessica but also of the murder of Caroline Coyne, in Thorneywood, Notts., whose body was found in an alley a month earlier.
The 28-year-old care worker had been strangled then bludgeoned and left to die from head injuries.
As a result of Jessica’s brave actions, last October Powell was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 20 years after being convicted at Nottingham Crown Court.
He was also jailed for a total of five-and-a-half years for the false imprisonment and sexual assault on Jessica. The sentences will run concurrently.
Yesterday (Thurs) Jessica, who now teaches full-time in Italy, recalled the attack after she was nominated for a national bravery award.
She said: “I couldn’t breathe – I thought he was going to kill me.
“But something told me I had to be calm and reach out on a human level.
“I managed to get his hands from my throat and said, ‘I promise I won’t scream, just let me catch my breath’.
“I think he was so shocked by my reaction that he let me go. I reassured him I wouldn’t make a sound. He took a step back and I knew my plan was working.
“Inside, I was terrified I asked him how his night had been and said, ‘You’re heading in the same direction as me. Let’s walk together’.”
Now Jessica has been nominated for Cosmo Ultimate Survivor category of the Cosmopolitan Ultimate Women of the Year Awards.
She said: “At the time, I just reacted. Nobody knows what they are going to do in that situation. It is really amazing to be nominated.
“It is a really nice feeling and it would be so nice to be the winner. It would make me feel better about the situation.
“People have said that I was brave and that I did really well to stay calm.
“Hopefully, it will make people think twice about how they react, and mainly just make them think about staying calm.”
Detective Chief Inspector Tony Heydon, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Jessica is simply an astonishing young lady. She had periods where the events of that night caused her real issues.
“To have the strength of character to put that to one side and give valuable evidence at court is nothing less than inspirational.
“Add to that what she did to probably save her own life, words are hard to find to describe how much I admire her.”
The winner will be announced at the Cosmopolitan Ultimate Women of the Year Awards 2014 on December 5 at the London Victoria and Albert Museum.