A FYLDE TV engineer caged for drugging and sexually assaulting a pensioner has had his minimum jail term slashed by top judges.
Darren Penfold, 49, of North Drive, Cleveleys, attacked his 84-year-old victim after joining her for an afternoon drink at her Blackpool home in January 2010.
Last September, he was jailed for at least six years at Preston Crown Court after convictions for sexual assault, theft and administering a substance with intent.
But today, the minimum term was cut to four-and-a-half years by London’s Court of Appeal.
Mr Justice Eady said it is right that Penfold should not be released until the Parole Board says he is safe, but he should be free to apply for release after a shorter term.
Despite strong evidence, Penfold denied sexual assault, theft and administering a drug, but was convicted by a jury last September.
His barrister, Richard Hunt, argued the minimum six-year term he must serve before applying for release was also too long.
Giving the judgment, Mr Justice Eady said the crown court judge was entitled to call Penfold a “dangerous” offender – and so liable for an open-ended sentence.
After upholding the indefinite nature of the sentence, the court cut Penfold’s minimum term to four-and-a-half years, after which he can apply to the Parole Board.
He will only then be freed if he is considered no longer pose a risk of serious harm to the public.