Spennymoor man jailed for 'gratuitous' late night attack on vulnerable woman (From The Advertiser Series)
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Man jailed for 'gratuitous' late night attack on vulnerable woman in Spennymoor
A MAN was jailed for three years after a court heard how he tried to take advantage of a “vulnerable” young woman he encountered late at night.
Hugh Raymond Frederick Holmes approached the woman, who was trying to locate her boyfriend after an earlier row, and asked her: “Are you keen?”
Durham Crown Court heard that although she tried to resist his advances he caressed her sexually, over her clothing.
Adrian Dent, prosecuting, said when she continued to resist, Holmes reacted angrily, kneeing her in the stomach, before running from the scene.
His distressed victim ran to a late night store to report the incident and to seek assistance.
The court was told the incident took place in St Andrew’s Lane, Spennymoor, on May 26 last year.
Holmes, 23, of Tudhoe Moor, Spennymoor, denied sexual assault and common assault.
But, following a trial at the court last month, a jury found him ‘guilty’ of both charges.
Sentence was adjourned pending preparation of background reports on Holmes.
Having read those reports, Recorder Euan Duff said he had concern that Holmes may pose a danger in such circumstances as has a previous similar conviction.
Andrew Petterson, for Holmes, told the court: “While he does have an unenviable record for a man of such an age, they can be described as relatively low levels of violence in both cases.
“But, it has to be accepted that he’s a young man who does drink to excess regularly.”
Passing sentence, Recorder Duff, told Holmes: “The gravity of this offence are the circumstances in which it took place, particularly given the vulnerability of this woman.
“It was the middle of the night in a lonely situation and I have to look at the previous similar behaviour.
“In both cases there was what I view as the rather gratuitous use of violence.
“Then, you had no qualms about leaving the complainant alone, on her own, after running off.
“From what I’ve been told this incident has had a profound psychological effect on this young woman.
“She had nightmares and was unable to sleep for a couple of weeks afterwards.
“These are all serious aggravating features.”
Holmes must now sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for an indefinite period.