Hooded groper placed on sex offenders’ list

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A HOODED teenager who groped a woman near a Burnley primary school and left her upset, has walked free from court.

The town’s crown court heard how John Kenney (19) accosted the vulnerable and “disadvantaged” 37-year-old, who has mental health problems, in broad daylight in February. He did not speak to the victim, but had walked up to her, reached out with both hands, touched her around her private parts over her clothing and ran off.

The woman returned to her nearby workplace, told a supervisor and police were called. Kenney was arrested wearing the same clothing the day after and was to claim he did it for a laugh.

The defendant, of Branch Road, Burnley, had been convicted of sexual assault on February 7th and had been committed for sentence by magistrates. He had no previous convictions.

Recorder Neil Flewitt QC told him his actions had been unacceptable and the victim must have suffered an “absolutely terrifying ordeal”.

The judge told Kenney: “You have come very close to going to prison, so let’s not have any repetition of what happened.” The defendant was given 26 weeks at a young offenders’ institution, suspended for two years, with supervision and must pay £200 compensation. He was placed on the sex offenders’ register for seven years.

The hearing was told the victim had just finished work at 3 p.m., when Kenney struck. When spoken to by police, he confirmed he had been in the area the day before and was arrested and cautioned. He claimed: “I tapped that woman on the shoulder and she started crying and I ran off.”

He was interviewed and accepted he had touched her on the hip with one hand, then said it was both hands and claimed his hands many have slipped down her hips.

Mr Richard Taylor (defending) said in interview he denied touching the woman sexually and said it was a laugh, to frighten her, to make her jump.

The defendant, who lived with his girlfriend, was a somewhat confused, extremely callow 19 year old. He had denied sexual gratification.

Mr Taylor said: “Until this, he had led a totally law abiding life.” The solicitor added the assault lasted seconds, Kenney did not use violence or threats and he denied targeting the woman.