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Barnstaple man who sexually assaulted drunk girl half his age at party is jailed

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: August 18, 2014

Eric Norris sexually assaulted the girl in his bed after a party.

A ROOFER has been jailed for sexually assaulting a drunken party girl who fell asleep in his bed after an all night alcohol and cannabis binge.

Eric Norris followed the woozy woman upstairs and took advantage of her even though he was more than twice her age.

She fled his flat in Barnstaple in terror and was taken to the police by a friend who she called to give her a lift home.

The attack has left the 23-year-old woman suffering from anxiety and depression and is now receiving counselling for post traumatic stress.

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Roofer Norris, aged 51, of Pilton Causeway, Barnstaple, denied assault by penetration but was found guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court last month.

He was jailed for two years by recorder Paul Dunkels, QC, who told him: "The victim went back to your accommodation when she was so drunk she could not look after herself.

“Initially you offered her sanctuary but that changed the next morning by which time she had recovered and carried on drinking and smoked cannabis with others.

“She went back to the bedroom feeling dizzy and sick and she wanted to lie down but you followed her and took advantage of her state.

“You got into bed with her and assaulted her in a way which she said was really painful. It was an opportunistic offence but nevertheless a very serious matter.

“She was very upset by what you did and I have heard she is suffering ongoing effects in terms of depression and anxiety.”

During a four-day trial the jury heard how the victim, had been drinking for around 18 hours on and off and had already gone to sleep twice in Norris’s bed before getting up and carrying on.

She had smoked cannabis with other people at the flat and eventually gone to bed in the morning. She said she made it clear to Norris she was not interested in any form of sexual activity.

She said he joined her, put his hands inside her clothes and touched her despite her repeatedly saying no and struggling with him.

Norris said she had been an enthusiastic participant and consented to everything he did.

Richard Crabb, for the defense, said Norris was remorseful and had made changes to his lifestyle as a result of the case. He said he was a self-employed roofer who would lose his livelihood and home if sent to jail.

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