A CARE worker is today a registered sex offender after he subjected a woman half his age to an "utterly appalling" sexual assault.

Adam Thornton, 43, grabbed the woman's hair, pushed her head down onto a surface and assaulted her from behind in a village near Selby, said Andrew Petterson, prosecuting.

He had previously sent her a picture of himself naked from the waist down.

Recorder Paul Reid said Thornton had made what could be seen as threats to the woman and she had been trying to avoid him.

The judge said of the sexual assault: “This was an utterly appalling thing to do to this young lady.”

Thornton was suspended from his job as a care worker supervisor when his employers learnt about his crime and will never work in the care sector again, York Crown Court heard.

His barrister Chris Dunn said Thornton didn’t know why he had done what he had done.

“It seems to me he developed almost an obsession towards the complainant which was completely misplaced,” said the barrister.

“It was a short-lived aberration in an otherwise exceptional life. He is genuinely remorseful and wishes to express to the complainant his remorse and assures her that she is in fact safe.”

Thornton, of Butt Lane, Snaith, East Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to sexual assault.

He was made subject to a two-year community order with a three-month daily curfew from 9pm to 6am, 30 days’ rehabilitative activities and 200 hours’ unpaid work.

He will be on the sex offenders’ register for five years and was made subject to a restraining order preventing him from contacting the woman for five years.

She was in court to see Thornton sentenced and to hear the judge praise her courage for speaking out about what had happened to her.

In a personal statement, she said: “It feels as if I lost control of my own body and my life.”

She said her mental health had suffered following the attack.

Mr Dunn said Thornton had no previous convictions and had not offended since. He handed in references and said Thornton had been an “extremely positive member of society".

The 43-year-old would feel lifelong consequences including the stigma of having a sex conviction and being unable to travel to some countries.

He would also be unable to work in certain employment sectors, such as with children or vulnerable people, said the defence barrister.