Man jailed for sex attacks on teenage girls in Widnes

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Paul GardenImage source, Crown Prosecution Service
Image caption,
Paul Garden was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison

A man who "prowled" the streets for teenage girls to sexually attack before going to work has been jailed.

Paul Garden, from Warrington, Cheshire, jumped out of an alley to assault his first victim, aged 19, in March 2019.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the airport worker rugby tackled his second victim at her garden gate, then sexually attacked her and fled laughing in July.

Garden denied both sexual assaults but was convicted and jailed for seven and a half years following a trial.

"You adopted a practice of prowling around looking for females to assault," Judge Robert Trevor-Jones said as he sentenced him for the two serious sexual offences.

"You went to Widnes town centre to look for a young woman alone who you could attack for sexual thrill and gratification."

'Predatory behaviour'

Both incidents happened before he began his early morning shift working in duty free at Speke Airport, the court heard.

The judge said CCTV footage showed Garden, 35, of Armstrong Close, Birchwood, had been driving around Widnes in the early hours of the morning on five other occasions looking for potential victims leaving nightclubs.

He said it was "sustained predatory behaviour".

Garden attacked his first victim at 03:30 GMT on 17 March last year. She had argued with her boyfriend so was walking on her own behind him when Garden spotted her and parked his car, the court heard.

The court was told Garden leapt out at her from an alley but her boyfriend heard her screams and ran to her and Garden fled.

It was only after the second assault on an 18-year-old girl as she reached her front gate, that police reviewed CCTV footage and linked Garden to the first attack.

Wendy Scott, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said the attacks resulted in "unimaginable terror" for the victims.

She said the assaults only ended when they did because they managed to scream and Garden ran off, she added.

Garden was also given a four-year extended licence and ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

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