Belfast Telegraph

Sleeping woman sex attacker Neil Alexander sobs as he's jailed

Prison term: Neil Alexander
Prison term: Neil Alexander

By Paul Higgins

A man who sexually assaulted a woman asleep in her own bed wept in court yesterday as he was jailed for a year.

Jailing Neil Alexander (33) and ordering him to spend a further two years under supervised licence, Judge Piers Grant told him his actions on August 5, 2017, had been "degrading" for his victim, who had suffered significantly as a result.

Downpatrick Crown Court heard she had been forced to give up her job and did not feel safe in her own home because of his attack.

At an earlier hearing, Alexander, from Merville Garden Village in Newtownabbey, entered guilty pleas to two counts of sexually assaulting the woman.

Prosecuting counsel Laura Ievers told the court how the victim, who knew Alexander, had been drinking in her living room when he called round and they drank together.

The woman went to bed, leaving him downstairs, and went to sleep.

However, she woke to find him naked in bed beside her.

Ms Ievers said the victim was sexually assaulted as Alexander rubbed his body against hers.

He fled the house out the back door when she woke up and called the police, but officers found him a short distance from the property.

Arrested and interviewed, Alexander at first denied the offences, but he later changed his pleas to guilty.

Defence QC Charles MacCreanor revealed that since the offences had come to light, his client's health had suffered to such an extent that he had been an inpatient in a psychiatric ward and had attempted suicide.

As well as the custodial sentence, Judge Grant imposed a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order and told Alexander he would be on the sex offenders' register for life.

Describing the offences as "clearly a serious form of sexual assault", the judge said the case obviously crossed the threshold for custody and had "inevitably caused considerable problems" for the victim.

He said she is "stoically trying to get her life back to normal and one hopes that will continue".

Judge Grant continued that although normal practice was to split sentences - half in custody and half on licence - "it's justified to adjust that sentence quite significantly" as Alexander had been assessed as not dangerous and unlikely to reoffend.

Welcoming the sentence, Detective Constable Ellie May from PSNI's public protection branch said: "Sexual assaults can often go unreported and it can be extremely difficult for someone to report an incident of this nature, but I hope that Neil Alexander's conviction today encourages others to come forward to police."

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