Hebburn attacker raped woman he met on app after she warned him there would be 'no sex'

An attacker who raped a woman he met over an app has been jailed for six years.

Sean Bentham connected with the woman online and the pair exchanged messages.Newcastle Crown Court heard the victim invited Bentham to her home for "cuddles" after she had been drinking, but warned him "no sex".

However, after she fell asleep, while they "spooned" in bed, he raped her.

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Prosecutor Richard Herrmann told the court the woman woke up during the attack and told Bentham to get out.

Sean Bentham.

Mr Herrmann said Bentham then "dashed to a police station to get his story in first" and claimed the victim had consented to what happened.

Bentham, 30, of Morecambe Parade, Hebburn, maintained his account during police questioning and trial but was convicted of rape and sexual assault by a jury.

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Mr Recorder Toby Hedworth KC has now sentenced Bentham to six years behind bars and said he must sign the sex offenders register for life.

The judge said: "She had been content for you to be lying next to her but unfortunately after she had gone to sleep you took advantage of the fact she was asleep, deeply asleep.

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"The jury's verdict makes it quite clear they were sure you knew full well she was asleep at all relevant times and could not have been consenting to that sexual activity."

Mr Herrmann told the court Bentham had started chatting to the woman online about two weeks before and they had met up once before the attack.

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Mr Herrmann said they had met in the friendship part of an app which could also be used for dating.

Mr Herrmann said after a night with friends the woman sent Bentham a message inviting him to stay over but specifed "no sex".

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Mr Herrmann said the woman had drank a lot of alcohol and "fell very quickly and very deeply asleep", while they were "spooning" and added: "The next thing she remembered was waking to find the defendant was having sex with her."

The victim said she was left feeling "every emotion possible" in the aftermath of the attack, including guilt, worry, embarrassment, anger and shame.

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She said in an impact statement: "I now feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I'm incredibly grateful I was believed by the jury."

Sue Hirst, defending, said Bentham has been in no trouble before and hopes to lead a productive life after his release from prison.

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Miss Hirst added: "The defendant's position was he reasonably believed she had consented, the jury found otherwise."Miss Hirst said Bentham regrets the hurt he has caused to others.