A PLUMBER who sexually assaulted a woman in her sheltered accommodation home has been jailed.

Derek Vincent Cantwell, 60, went to the York property to carry out repairs, York Crown Court heard.

But when their small talk turned to the subject of ailments, he falsely claimed he was a qualified and experienced masseur, persuaded her to strip naked, and during a "massage" sexually assaulted her.

In a victim personal statement read to the court, the victim said the incident had traumatised her so much she had lost two stone in weight and suffered from panic attacks.

She had to move home because she couldn't bear to sleep in her bed where it had happened, and her grown-up children were so concerned about her they constantly rang her to see if she was all right.

"I don't feel like I am me any more," she wrote.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC told Cantwell he had breached the woman's trust.

"Quite when in the conversation (with the victim) you determined that you would exploit what was going on for your own sexual gratification is unclear," he said.

"There is an indication it was early on by the fact of the pretence you engaged in as to your qualifications and experience in the giving of massages."

Cantwell, of Scarsea Way, Bempton on the East Yorkshire coast, denied sexual assault but a York jury convicted him at a trial in November.

He was jailed for 20 months and put on the sex offenders' register for ten years.

For him, David Godfrey said: "He has made a grotesque error of judgement. This offence wasn't planned, it wasn't something that was in his mind's eye when he walked through that door. It was a chain of events that escalated."

Cantwell had served in Northern Ireland when in the Army in his youth and then had been a redcoat at a Butlins holiday camp.

He had gained plumbing qualifications in the 1990s and since then had worked as a plumber, including for deaf and blind people.

He had also brought up his children as a single parent after his marriage ended when they were both small.