January 2003

Man free after sex assault on teenager

A MAN who indecently assaulted a teenager in his home walked free from court yesterday.

Anthony Byrne, 43, invited the 15-year-old into his house at Collingwood Street, South Shields, SouthTyneside, where they played on his computer before it was decided she should stay the night.

But Newcastle Crown Court heard that after she had fallen asleep in his bed alone she was woken by him attacking her.

Byrne was initially charged with rape but after he entered a guilty plea to indecent assault, the more serious charge was dropped.

Defence barrister Jamie Hill said Byrne admitted he had been “stupid” and said he was ashamed of what he did.

Mr Hill said: “It was one moment of drunken madness. He did not deliberately set up a meeting with her to commit an indecent assault.”

Sex offender service reports indicated that Byrne was not a paedophile and posed a low risk of offending in future.

Judge Michael Cartlidge sentenced him to a two-year community rehabilitation order with the condition that he attends the sex offender group work programme.

Byrne will be registered as a sex offender for five years and was ordered to pay £414 court costs.