Prison for sex crimes

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A ‘FRIGHTENING hooligan’ who groped a shop worker before exposing himself to her was sent to prison this week.

Darren John Barton, 29, of All Saints Road, Creeting St Mary, pleaded guilty to sexual assault and exposure at a previous court hearing.

On Tuesday, at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court, he received 90 days in prison.

Prosecuting, Rosalind Cappleman said that at 8.35pm on May 2, Barton walked into a shop in Stowmarket, called the worker by her nickname, moved behind the shop counter and hugged her.

He appeared drunk, slurring his words and stumbling around, and was not wearing any shoes, said Mrs Cappleman.

The victim recognised him as someone she had known as a child. He started shouting but told her that it was directed ‘at the little people behind her’.

She told him he was not allowed behind the counter but Barton grabbed her, sexually assaulted her and pulled down his boxer shorts, exposing himself.

Mrs Cappleman said that the victim was so upset by the ordeal that she took time off work.

“She said she was very scared throughout the incident and was worried he would become violent because he was swearing and behaving aggressively,” she said.

In mitigation, David Stewart said that Barton was a self-employed carpenter for whom ‘drink is a problem’.

He said Barton and the victim knew each other and had ‘communicated intimately’ by exchanging texts, ‘not that that excuses his behaviour,’ said Mr Stewart.

Speaking to Barton, district judge David Cooper said: “I know she sent you some fairly provocative messages and used pretty awful terms, but I think the ordinary member of the public reading about this case would be outraged if you didn’t go to prison.

“On this occasion, you were a drunken, frightening hooligan.”

As well as 90 days in prison, Barton was issued with a restraining order and put on the sex offenders’ register.