October 2016

Sunderland park attacker in court after slapping the bottom of teenage girl

A man slapped a teenage girl’s bottom as he walked in a Sunderland park.

Gavin Potter was in Thorney Park when he approached the girl from behind and slapped her buttocks.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the 31-year-old would spend a considerable amount of time in the park.

Gavin Doig, prosecuting, said Potter had been in the park with his son when the incident took place last year.

Mr Doig said: “He seemed to spend a great deal more time with the teenage girls in the park than his son.”

He told the court how the victim was lying on the ground in the park when Potter approached her.

Another witness claimed he slapped her bottom.

Potter was interviewed by police and denied sexual assault. However, on the day of his trial, August 31, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of common assault which was accepted by the prosecution.

Judge Edward Bindloss told the court: “The prosecution accept the circumstances of this assault are not sexual.”

Jonathan Walker, defending, told the judge Potter was unfit to complete unpaid work, but was undertaking an induction to begin work at a recycling centre.

He said: “It looks as thought he’s going to have his hands busy with full-time employment from tomorrow.”

Judge Bindloss told Potter the offence was “unpleasant” and “unacceptable”.

He said: “She was lying on the ground and you grabbed her bottom by slap or squeeze. She was understandably shocked. By pleading guilty to the plea you accept you did the act.”

Potter, of Telford Road, Thorney Close, Sunderland, was sentenced to an 18-month community order with an activity requirement of 40 days.