St Neots Man Jailed For Sexual Assault

29 July 2011, 13:39 | Updated: 29 July 2011, 13:47

A landscape gardener, who drunkenly sexually assaulted a 17 year old girl, has been jailed for 20 months.

The judge also made an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order banning him being alone with anyone under 18, and he must register as a sex offender for ten years.

Vincent Middleton, 47, of Broad Walk, Eynesbury, was still in denial about the offence; Luton Crown Court was told on 22 July.

He pleaded not guilty to sexual assault but was convicted after a trial before Bedford Magistrates. He was sent to the Crown Court to be sentenced because of the seriousness of the offence.

His lawyer, Mark Nicholls, said Middleton was drinking as much as 60 units of alcohol a day at the time and has no memory of the events.

Judge Barbara Mensah said: "I have heard that the impact on your victim has been devastating. You have undermined her confidence. But you are in denial and continue to be in denial."

Prosecutor Claudette Elliott said the offence was committed on 2nd February this year in a north Bedfordshire village where Middleton was then living. 

The girl had visited him that evening but while she was there and his house mate had fallen asleep he repeatedly tried to touch her intimately over her clothing, resisting her attempts to push him away. She managed to get to the door but he followed her and continued trying to grope her.

Middleton told police and the magistrates that nothing happened, meaning the teenager had to go through the ordeal of giving evidence.

Mr. Nicholls, defending, said: "If he did do it, he is sorry and would apologise. There was nothing untoward in his behaviour towards her prior to this."

But the court was told that he had been jailed 23 years ago for a previous sexual offence.

Judge Mensah said: "This was a nasty, prolonged offence, committed when you were drunk."