Sheffield University student could be deported after sex assault

A Chinese PhD student who was arrested trying to enter Buckingham Palace with a knife and later went on to sexually assault a woman at the University of Sheffield will probably be deported, a judge has said.

Monday, 4th February 2019, 11:31 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 16:20 pm

Hang Zhang, aged 27, was arrested outside the Palace in August 2016 after being found with a folded knife.

Sheffield Crown Court

Charges against him were dropped when he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

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But today, Zhang appeared at Sheffield Crown Court to be sentenced for a sexual assault he admitted committing on another student at the University of Sheffield, where he was studying.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said that the defendant had developed a ‘penchant’ for following female students and, in October 2018, he followed one woman out of a gym class and pulled down her shorts.

The judge said: “She was quite understandably acutely embarrassed and appalled.”

Judge Richardson said both incidents were ‘bizarre’ and he was sure that Zhang was suffering from a complex mental disorder – almost certainly bi-polar affective disorder.

He said: "There was a bizarre but very worrying incident at the Palace when you had a number of curious thoughts and desires."

Referring to the sexual assault in Sheffield, the judge said: “It was, on any analysis, disgraceful conduct but it was equally quite bizarre”.

He ordered Zhang to be detained at a medium secure hospital under the Mental Health Act saying that, if he had not been mentally ill, he would have been given an immediate prison sentence.

The judge said: “It is important, given your history, and, in particular the episode at the Palace, that the Secretary of State is made aware of your case.

“I have every suspicion that, in due course, you will be removed from the country and returned to the People's Republic of China.”

Judge Richardson said Zhang's removal was a matter for the government but was ‘highly likely’.

Addressing Zhang, who arrived in the UK in 2015 and was studying for a doctorate in engineering at the time of the offence in Sheffield, the judge said: “It is a tragic case. You are a highly intelligent young man who, sadly, has a mental illness.”

He said: “It's tragic that one so clever should be blighted by a very serious mental disorder. This may well have ruined your life. I'm not unmindful of that very sad state of affairs.

“Equally, I'm not unmindful of these very unhappy consequences for that young woman who was assaulted.”

The judge added: “What will become of you in China is not a matter for me.”

He said he hoped the defendant would get the treatment he needed.