Daniel James Hepburn flouted the Sex Offenders’ Register rules when he failed to tell police of a change of address as he was living rough.

He was convicted of indecently assaulting a County Durham schoolgirl in 2008.

After release the 21-year-old – who had slept in a park and in a skip – was arrested after stealing sunglasses from Boots in Market Place, Durham, and jailed for five months for non-notification and theft in July.

September 2008

Homeless man repaid kindness with sex assault

A homeless man offered food and friendship by a couple repaid their kindness by sexually assaulting their daughter.

Daniel Hepburn groped the 13-year-old girl as she played in a park and then exposed himself to her, Durham Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Alexia Zimbler told the court Hepburn was homeless when he met the teenager’s family.

“It seems they took pity on him and had him around for meals and so on,” added Ms Zimbler. “In this way he got to know the girl who was to become his victim.

“On the day the offences were carried out, he came across her and some friends in a park.”

Ms Zimbler said the girl wanted a cigarette and asked him for a light and he said she could have one if he could feel her chest.

She said: “She declined the offer, but it appears he went ahead and groped her anyway.”

The court heard the girl’s friends pulled Hepburn away and she went to play on some swings.

Ms Zimbler said he followed her across to the play area and exposed himself in front of her.

She added: “She said later she closed her eyes.”

Hepburn, 19, now of Ash Avenue, Sherburn Road, Durham, admitted indecent assault and indecent exposure in May, 2007.

In mitigation David Callan said: “He was 17 at the time of this offence and it is accepted he has always looked younger than his years.

“His mother met her new partner via the Internet and she and Mr Hepburn moved from Kent to the North East to move in with him.

“It seems all did not go well and his mother effectively threw her son out of the house.

“This left him wandering the streets, looking for food and shelter, in a manner some might describe as Dickensian.

“What he did with this girl was clearly unpleasant, but perhaps had more to do with adolescent high spirits than serious sexual offending.”

Judge Richard Lowden sentenced Hepburn to a 12-month supervision order, with a condition he take part in a sex offenders rehabilitation programme. He will be on the sex offenders’ register for five years.