Scarborough man jailed for 'appalling' sexual assault on vulnerable woman in Pickering

A Scarborough man has been jailed for an “appalling” sexual assault on a vulnerable woman.
James HetheringtonJames Hetherington
James Hetherington

James Hetherington, 29, forced himself onto the woman and subjected her to a humiliating sexual assault, York Crown Court heard.

The attack, which occurred at a property in Pickering, had deeply traumatised the victim who cannot be named for legal reasons.

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Prosecutor Mike Greenhalgh said it was later proved that Hetherington, formerly of Pickering, was the attacker after forensic analysis showed his DNA was on the woman’s underwear.

Hetherington was “out of his head” on whisky and had a bag of cannabis with him at the time of the attack in November 2022.

“Throughout that assault, she repeatedly told him she didn’t want this and to get off her,” said Mr Greenhalgh.

“He tried to lie on top of her and when he pushed her down he was too strong for the victim to get him off.

“He then got off, pulled his trousers down.

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He then tried to pull the woman’s trousers down but without success.

The victim said she was very scared as Hetherington had ignored her pleas to get off her.

Police were informed and Hetherington, of Cromwell Terrace, Scarborough, was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault.

Mr Greenhalgh said that Hetherington was “physically aggressive” with officers upon his arrest.

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In police interview, he told them he had been drunk at the time of the incident and couldn’t remember it.

When presented with the DNA evidence, he still protested his innocence, but ultimately admitted two counts of sexual assault.

He appeared for sentence today when the prosecution outlined his not-inconsiderable list of previous convictions for offences such as battery, witness intimidation and criminal damage.

Defence barrister Nick Peacock said Hetherington was “thoroughly ashamed” of his behaviour.

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He said that Hetherington had his own mental-health problems brought on primarily by drink and drugs.

Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, blasted Hetherington for an “appalling sexual assault upon a vulnerable woman” while he was “out of his head on whisky”.

He said the attack had had a “big impact” on the victim.

Hetherington was handed a 10-month jail sentence but will only serve half of that behind bars before being released on prison licence. He was ordered to sign on the sex-offenders’ register for 10 years.