A GRAVESEND man has admitted trying to strangle a female victim in a random street attack.

Aaron Payne, 26, assaulted Carly Steel in an alleyway near St Gregory's Cresent at around 6.40pm on August 1.

He had been due to stand trial for attempted murder but pleaded guilty to a less serious charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Payne, of Fenners Marsh, Gravesend, never denied being responsible for the attack, defence barrister John Fitzgerald told Maidstone Crown Court yesterday (JAN 28) - the issue was whether he intended to cause the victim grievous bodily harm.

Judge Charles Byers told the court there was no sexual element to the crime, with Miss Steel telling police Payne "had not touched her in any way other than to strangle her."

He said: "There are some very nasty elements to this case - not only the attack, which was serious to say the least on Miss Steel, and most unpleasant - but there is the thought he may have been following another woman, although that will not influence me greatly."

Payne has previous convictions for assaulting a police constable and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, Mr Fitzgerald told the court, but "nothing that comes anywhere near the seriousness of this offence."

Miss Steel's family were in court to hear Payne will be sentenced on March 3 when the charge of attempted murder will be dealt with.

Prosecutor Jeffery Lamb indicated no evidence will be offered to the charge.

Judge Byers said he wanted to better understand Payne's history before sentencing him, after Mr Fitzgerald told the court he had a history of psychiatric problems.

Judge Byers added: "Your plea will make a little difference to the sentence I ultimately pass but as you can imagine I want to know more about you first."

A pre-sentence report will be prepared for the judge