A MAN who sexually assaulted a drunk woman in the street has been jailed for six years.

Martin Joseph Ward, 52, will also be subject to an extended licence period of five years after he is released from prison, as the judge and doctors said they considered him to be a potential danger to lone women in the street.

York Crown Court heard how Ward, of Woodfield Drive, Harrogate, was drunk when he spotted a young woman in Montpellier Parade and followed her and her friend.

When the women sat on a bench, he sat next to them and touched one of them over her clothing. When her friend told him to stop, and people in nearby premises came out to ask if the woman was alright, he walked away. The court heard he then returned, spun the woman around and grabbed her arm, then put his hand into her underwear.

Ian Howard, prosecuting, told the court the woman threatened to phone the police, and Ward told her he knew where she lived and would rape her if she reported him. He then exposed himself to her, and she ran away.

After the woman told her parents what had happened, police were called, and Ward was arrested. In interview, he denied any wrongdoing then made no comment, but pleaded guilty at court.

The court heard Ward had previously been charged for similar offences, and Alan Armbrister, defending, said Ward accepted he faced a prison sentence and appealed for a discount for his guilty plea.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC told Ward he was “satisfied you pose a significant risk of serious harm”, and said a psychiatric report said Ward represented “a significant risk of further sexual offending”.

He told Ward he had taken his claim of mental illness into account, but said “I do not believe there is a direct link between your mental disorder and behaviour”, and “I am satisfied you are a dangerous offender”.

Ward was sentenced to six years in prison for sexual assault by penetration, 12 months to be served concurrently for sexual assault, and six months to be served concurrently for indecent exposure. He will also be subject to a five-year licence on release from prison, and was told he must serve at least two thirds of his sentence before he could be considered for parole.