Drunk jailed for assaulting passing student

The judge described the attack as being “every woman’s nightmare”

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Joseph Holmes, 46, has been sentenced to four years in prison for sexual assault on a Durham University mature student.

The attack took place at 7.30pm on the 12th of December on Western Hill in Durham.

Durham Crown Court was told Holmes muttered something the woman couldn’t understand, after which he proceeded to tell her: “I’ve got a knife. Take your knickers off,” before pushing her into a bush.

According to Rupert Doswell, prosecuting, the student had said “I don’t think so,” but could not see whether the attacker had a knife due to his right hand being in his pocket. The woman tried to get into the middle of the road, saw a female pedestrian further up the street, and shouted “Help, I’m being attacked. Phone the police.”

Following this she was knocked to the ground and pinned down by Holmes, who prised open her legs and touched her inappropriately.

Doswell told the court that the pedestrian approached and pinned down the attacker’s bag with her foot, enabling the student to free herself, after which both women ran away.

Holmes was, at the time, intoxicated by drink and drugs, but was not carrying a knife.

Following the assault he had made his way home, uttered a lewd comment to another woman, and was finally arrested near the Garden House pub at the top of North Road.

According to Paul Cleasby, mitigating, Holmes has “committed no previous offences of a sexual nature”, but he does have 101 previous convictions for nuisance and drink-related offences.

Judge Christopher Prince, jailing Holmes, described the incident as being “every woman’s nightmare”, and formally commended the pedestrian who came to the student’s aid.

Following his crime, Holmes has to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register, for life.