Sex attacker targeted unconscious stranger on Metro train - then claimed she was his girlfriend

A sex attacker who targeted an "unconscious" stranger on a Metro train has kept his freedom.

Leon Clarkson repeatedly put his hand down the woman's leggings, in front of horrified passengers, then claimed the victim was his girlfriend when he wasconfronted about his sickening behaviour.

Newcastle Crown Court the 21-year-old eventually "picked up" the woman, who had taken prescription medication before her journey, and led her off thetrain.

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Fortunately, one "uncomfortable" passenger had texted her boyfriend to tell him what she saw and he alerted the police, who found the victim at a Metro station in North Tyneside.

Leon Clarkson.

Prosecutor Neil Pallister told the court the victim, who had been trying to travel to South Shields was taken to hospital and had to be told by police what had happened to her.

Mr Pallister said: "She woke up in hospital, to be told by the police, following their enquiries, that she had been sexually assaulted.

"That sexual assault took place on a Metro train."

The court heard one train passenger said the woman appeared "totally unconscious", "couldn't even sit up" and she saw a male putting his hand down her leggings, which "kept happening".

The witness told police: "I don't believe she could have moved away from him.

"She was in no fit state to content to what was happening."

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When the witness challenged the male he said the victim was his girlfriend and was a "bit dizzy".

Mr Pallister added: "The witness describes he picked up the complainant, took her to her feet and escorted her off the Metro train."

The court heard a man who saw Clarkson and the victim as they got off the train said the woman appeared "completely incoherent".

Clarkson, 21, of Fairview, West Rainton, admitted sexual assault.

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He has a previous conviction for outraging public decency by committing a sex act on a bus.

The train victim said in an impact statement: "I was informed by a police officer I had been sexually assaulted on a Tyne and Wear Metro train.

"I had taken medication before I got on the Metro and I have no recollection of what happened to me.

"The police investigating the crime told me what happened. This made me feel ill and very anxious.

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"I didn't know who this man was.

"I didn't even know what was happening to me. I was very vulnerable at that point and I think it's terrible he could do that on a Metro in front of other people.

"I'm very worried he will do this again to a vulnerable woman or girl. When I see a drunk girl or woman I now always tell them to get home safe and I worryabout them."

The woman said she now fears using the Metro and does not like to be alone.

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She added that she hoped her attacker got a prison sentence and said: "I truly believe if he is capable of doing this in front of witnesses on a busy Metrotrain he could do something worse to someone else."

The court heard Clarkson has a history of mental health issues and learning difficulties.

Jamie Adams, defending, said long term intervention could rehabilitate Clarkson, who was "taking lost of cannabis" at the time of the attack and is sorry for what he did.

Mr Recorder Tahir Khan KC told Clarkson: "The complainant was completely at your mercy and you took advantage of her by touching her when she clearly could not be consenting."

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Clarkson was sentenced to a community order for three years with sex offender programme requirements.

He has been ordered to sign the sex offenders register for five years.

The judge said the community sentence was not a "let off" and will require a lot of work.