Houghton Man Avoids Prison for Metro Sexual Assault

A Houghton Le Spring man who sexually assaulted an unconscious passenger on a busy train has avoided a prison sentence.

Leon Clarkson, originally living in Newcastle, but now of Fairview, West Rainton, Houghton-le-Spring, committed the assault against a woman on the metro by putting his hand down her leggings and touching her private parts in public view of others.

The victim, unconscious due to prescription medication, did not know what was happening.

The attack happened in April last year as the woman travelled from Gateshead to South Shields. Neil Pallister, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court: “She can’t remember anything about the incident.

She woke up in hospital the next day to be told by the police she had been sexually assaulted.

“That took place on a Metro train. A witness got on at South Gosforth about 6.30pm and she noticed the defendant and a female sitting opposite her.

“The female was lying down on her side and she appeared intoxicated and couldn’t even sit up. The witness said the male had one hand down the front of the complainant’s leggings and clearly had his hand on her vagina.

“The witness said she was trying not to look as she felt uncomfortable. She said he kept taking his hand out of the leggings and putting his hand on her vagina then putting his hand back down her leggings.

“She said that kept happening the whole time from South Gosforth to Four Lane Ends.” The witness told police: “The female appeared totally unconscious, she was in no fit state to consent to what was happening.”

The witness demanded Clarkson stop, but he lied claiming that she was his girlfriend and that she was just a “bit dizzy”.

At Four Lane Ends station he got up and he picked the woman up and took her off the train.

The witness then texted her boyfriend, who called the police. On the platform, he then encountered another witness who on seeing the victim, asked him what was going on.

He then tried to claim she had smoked cannabis.

Mr Pallister said: “The defendant said she’d had a joint but the witness didn’t believe that. The defendant told the witness the complainant’s mother was going to pick her up. The complainant was incoherent.”

When police turned up they found the victim was “very drowsy” and could barely stand up or speak. She said she had taken three diazepam tablets.

In a victim impact statement, she later said: “I was informed by a police officer I had been sexually assaulted on the Metro. I had taken medication before getting on on the Metro so I have no recollection.

“It made me feel ill and very anxious. I didn’t know who this man was. It made me frightened to go anywhere and I stopped going on the Metro because I didn’t know if anything else was going to happen.

“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 now I always tell them to get home safe and I worry about them.”

She said she hoped he got a prison sentence, adding: “I truly believe if he is capable of doing this in front of witnesses on a busy Metro train, he could do something worse to someone else.”

Clarkson was soon arrested, and despite initially denying any wrongdoing he then pleaded guilty to sexual assault.

The court heard heard he has an existingconviction for outraging public decency from 2019 after carrying out a sex act on a bus.

Despite this, he avoided a custodial sentence.

Recorder Tahir Khan sentenced him to a three-year community order with a sex offender treatment programme and he must sign the sex offenders register. The judge said: “The victim was completely at your mercy and you took advantage of her by touching her when she clearly couldn’t have been consenting.

“A community order might appear to be lenient, on the face of it, given you carried out a sexual assault on someone who was clearly incapable of giving consent. I want to make it clear this is not a let-off. This is a court order which will require you to undertake a lot of work.”

Jamie Adams, defending, said: “He is a vulnerable young man and needs help to overcome the problems that led him to commit this awful offence. He is sorry for what he did and things have moved on.

“He apologised to the complainant at the magistrates’ court in the presence of the officer in the case and his mother. That was an important step.

“The unfortunate complainant didn’t know just how vulnerable this young man is. He has mental health problems and he was taking lots of cannabis at the time.” The court heard he has ADHD and a learning difficulty.