South Tyneside sex attacker targeted three girls in one day
A sex attacker who caused fear in a community when he targeted three terrified young girls in one day has been put behind bars.
Paul Drewery groped one girl as she looked at clothing during a shopping trip with her mum.
The 46-year-old then grabbed at another girl as she walked towards a park and was "quietly laughing" during the attack that left her "hysterical".
And later that day, Drewery followed a third girl through the streets, after trying to grab her from behind.
A social media warning was circulated as worried parents found out what was happening and Drewery was arrested at his home, "clearly very drunk", as a crowd gathered outside.
At Newcastle Crown Court Drewery, of Arran Drive, Jarrow, who pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual assault and one of attempted sexual assault, was jailed for 12 months.
He must sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for ten years.
Judge Robert Spragg said: "These were very frightening and upsetting incidents for the young girls and indeed others that were with them."
Prosecutor Paul Reid told the court the first victim was targeted as she browsed clothing in a South Tyneside store.
After groping the girl, Drewery asked "do you like that?" then claimed he had been talking about an item of clothing she was looking at.
He was caught on security camera and traced by a card he had used to pay for a bottle of vodka while in the shop.
The victim said in an impact statement she now questions herself over her clothing choices and said she felt "powerless and worthless" when it happened.
She added: "He frightened me. I have had nightmares about the assault and the comments he made towards me.
"I was previously bubbly and happy. I now feel sad a lot of the time."
Later that day Drewery targeted another girl in the borough as she walked towards a park with her friends.
The victim told her pals to "run" after it happened.
Mr Reid said Drewery was "stumbling around" during that attack and was seen "quietly laughing as he touched her".
The victim was "hysterical" when she got home.
She said in an impact statement: "I am worried it might happen again.
"I think about what happened all the time. It makes me really sad.
"When I think about what happened it gives me a horrible feeling in my tummy."
The final victim had been contacted by her mother by phone while she was out with friends in the early evening.
Mr Reid said: "She answered and screamed down the phone 'mam I need your help, I need your help'.
"She told her mum she was being followed by a man who tried to grab her from behind, said she was pretty and needed to go with him."
The court heard the girl's mum told her to seek refuge in a nearby pub while she made her way to her and the police were contacted.
The victim said in her statement she worries when she sees men who look like Drewery and added: "I freeze and it gives me a scary feeling.
"I'm scared he will get out of prison and try to touch me again."
Fiona Lamb, defending, said Drewery was "extremely intoxicated" and will lose the home he has lived in for 20 years as a result of what he did.
Miss Lamb added: "He wasn't aware of what he was doing a the time and has very little recollection even to this day about what happened."
Miss Lamb said Drewery considered it a "stupid day" and added: "He said he would chop his hands off if he thought anything like this would ever happen again."
Drewery read a letter during the hearing and expressed his remorse for the victims and their families and the harm he has caused.