Sex attacker jailed for groping woman at music festival and laughing at it

A sex attacker who groped a stranger at a city centre music festival has been jailed.

Benjamin Hawkins grabbed the woman’s breast as he walked past her at a “Noughty 90s” event in Leazes Park, Newcastle. A court heard he appeared to find the sexual assault funny as he laughed as he walked off.

The victim and her friends kept him in sight and security and police were alerted, Newcastle Crown Court heard. Hawkins, who has previous for serious violence, kicked out at a police officer when confronted.

Jailing him for 14 months and ordering him to sign the sex offenders register for seven years, Judge Penny Moreland said: “You attended a music festival in Newcastle, where you grabbed a woman’s breast as you walked past her.

“The evidence of those who saw you do it suggests you thought it was funny because you were laughing as you walked away.”

Prosecutor Neil Jones told the court: “The defendant walked past her at about 9.25pm, towards the end of the festival, and grabbed her left breast, laughing as he did so and he walked off.”

Hawkins, 27, of Acton Place, Heaton, Newcastle, denied sexual assault but was convicted after a trial. He admitted assault on an emergency worker.

In an impact statement, the victim said she now feels “nervous and on edge” around people, fears being out alone and added: “I can’t even go to the supermarket anymore.” The woman said if she does go out socialising she finds a place where she can sit with her back to the wall so she can see everything going on around her.

She said: “I never thought anything like this could happen to me”. She added: “I wish I could forget and move on.

“I’m pleased the suspect has been found guilty but I will have to live with the consequences of what he has done to me for the rest of my life.”

Hawkins has 24 previous convictions, including for wounding with intent. He was subject to a suspended sentence and a community order at the time of the sexual assault.

David Robinson-Young, defending, said: “He is a complicated character. He has suffered several mental health problems, including PTSD.”