83-year-old sex assault claims

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court
Share this article
Have your say

A TV aerial fitter doped an 83-year-woman with designer drugs before sexually assaulting her, a court was told.

Darren Penfold, 48, was working at the pensioner’s home in Blackpool, when he allegedly slipped the illegal substances in a glass of whisky to overpower her.


The defendant was carrying out ongoing work at the address at the time of the incident on January 27 last year, a jury at Preston Crown Court was told.

The woman, who lived alone, came round the next morning in her bedroom and slowly recalled she been sexually assaulted by a man the day before, the prosecution said.

Police were informed and the woman told them Penfold, of North Drive, Cleveleys, had been at her house on the day and she knew him from previous work he had carried out there.

Richard Haworth, prosecuting, said on most days the victim would have a “happy hour” during the afternoon where she would have a glass or two of Southern Comfort.

He said: “What should have been her happy hour became, on any interpretation, her unhappiest hours.

“It seems the defendant also partook of the alcohol and was pouring drinks for her which the prosecution say got her into such a condition she was unable to prevent what he went on to perpetrate against her.

“When she awoke she found herself in her bedroom, not wearing the clothes she had been wearing.

“There was evidence of clothing being removed and being strewn on the floor.”

It is prosecution’s case Penfold sexually assaulted her.

When arrested Penfold – who works across the North West – denied any sexual incident had taken place and said he had not been upstairs in the house.

He said she was upstairs when he left mid-evening as he went home.

However, Mr Haworth said forensic evidence showed the defendant’s DNA was found on the victim’s clothing.

A sample was also taken from the victim – now aged 85 – and showed a significant amount of alcohol had been taken in the period concerned and traces of the drugs BZP and TFMPP.

The prosecutor said both were relatively new designer drugs which were marketed as legal highs until December 2009, when they were outlawed as Class C controlled drugs.

He said mixing the two substances produced “mood altering and hallucinogenic effects” similar to amphetamine and had side effects of possible seizures.

He said research into the drugs was still in its infancy, particularly regarding the elderly.

Mr Haworth said a number of glasses were also retrieved from the victim’s property and one contained a clear liquid with traces of the drugs.

The DNA of both the defendant and victim was on the glass, he added.

Penfold, denies sexual assault and intentionally administering a substance with the intent to overpower his victim to engage in sexual activity with her.

He also pleaded not guilty to stealing four bottles of alcohol from her house.