Birmingham Burglar Jailed After 'Lenient' Sentence

A man who sexually assaulted a ``petrified'' teacher in her bedroom when he burgled her home has been sent to jail by top judges who ruled he should not have been given a non-custodial sentence.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London found that a three-year community order imposed in the case of Joshua Sweet, 20, was ``unduly lenient'' - and ordered him to serve a jail term of two and a half years.

Sweet, of Kidderminster, West Midlands, was originally sentenced to the community order at Birmingham Crown Court in April after pleading guilty to burglary and sexual assault.

Lady Justice Macur, announcing the decision of the appeal court today, said the victim's experience ``exemplifies the feelings of distress, invasion and future fear as to physical safety'' caused by the invasion of what should be a ``place of refuge''.

She said: ``The impact upon a female awoken from her sleep by a stranger in her bedroom, standing over her, does not need any further explanation.''

In a victim impact statement, the woman described being ``absolutely petrified'' when the attack took place at her home in Birmingham, saying she did ``not feel safe any more''.

The attack by Sweet, who had been drinking, ended when another occupant confronted him after being alerted when the victim screamed.

The community order was made along with a sex offender group programme requirement, a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement, and a 150 days unpaid work requirement.

Welcoming the decision to overturn that order, the Solicitor General, Robert Buckland, said: ``Joshua Sweet sexually attacked a woman during a burglary in her home, a place she was entitled to feel safe.

``Sexual offences committed by a burglar have a huge impact on the victim and are deeply distressing for all those who may also live in the house. The Court of Appeal's decision today reflects the serious nature of these offences and I am pleased that they have raised this sentence to two and a half years.''

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