Man jailed for sexually assaulted mum-to-be in street

A sex attacker who grabbed a heavily pregnant mother’s bottom in a Burnley street has been locked up - 10 days before he was due to get married.

Thursday, 13th August 2015, 7:06 pm

Darren Hargreaves (45) struck as the vulnerable victim, who was just weeks off giving birth, pushed her toddler in a buggy, in broad daylight. She was terrified by what happened and was driven from her home by the upset, Burnley Crown Court heard.

The hearing was told Hargreaves has convictions for molesting females spanning three decades.

Hargreaves was planning to marry on August 21st. His fiancée left the court sobbing as he was taken from the dock to start a 21-month jail term.

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The defendant, formerly of Ball Street, Nelson, admitted sexual assault. He had initially denied the allegation, but changed his plea the day he was due to face trial. He was ordered to sign the sexual offenders register for 10 years.

Prosecutor Julian Goode told the court at about 11am, the woman was walking from a shop and had her child with her, in a buggy.

She turned into a street and saw a man walking towards her. Mr Goode said: “As he walked towards her, on the same side, he passed her on her left hand side and grabbed the left side of her bottom.

“She was terrified and walked away as fast as she could. She did not want to go home. As a result, she ended up staying with her sister some distance away and in fact stayed there until after she gave birth.”

Hargreaves was later arrested and denied the offence. The victim picked out the defendant as the man who had touched her on a video identification parade two weeks later.

Kathryn Johnson, in mitigation, said of the latest offence : “The touching was very brief. It was over the clothing and it wasn’t sustained.

“I accept there is the fact of his previous convictions, which puts a different complexion on the case.”

The barrister urged the court to impose an intensive community order, which, she said “would potentially protect the public so far as the future is concerned, rather than a relatively short custodial sentence”.

The barrister said Hargreaves and his partner were due to get married on August 21st. She added :” The defendant and his partner are most anxious that he is able to attend on that date.”

Passing sentence, Judge Beverley Lunt told Hargreaves: “Once again you are before the court for assaulting a woman. It means that your inappropriate sexual acts have now spanned three decades.”

Judge Lunt said the pregnant victim would be entitled to feel safe walking with her young child at 11am, but she wasn’t.

“You show very limited remorse and acceptance of what you did, you seem to be denying your previous convictions and don’t accept any sexual motivation as far as this matter is concerned.”