Sex attacker spared prison after denial

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court

A man who sexually assaulted a man with autism has been spared jail due to his own difficult past.

Daniel Mullen, 56, lured the man back to his home and engineered a situation where he could assault him.

There was certainly an element of grooming behaviour

Preston Crown Court heard Mullen, of Gladstone Street, South Shore, met the man at a group he was attending to help with depression.

After befriending his victim, Mullen invited him back to his home and sat beside him on the sofa to look at a book, before sexually assaulting the man.

The man left the flat and reported Mullen, who denied the attack but was convicted following a trial.

The court heard Mullen was sentenced to 11 years in prison for a serious sexual assault in 2004. Judge Andrew Woolman, sentencing, said: “There was certainly an element of grooming behaviour – not a very determined grooming because you let him make the running – but eventually there came a time when you invited him back to your house.

“I have no doubt you engineered a situation in which you ended up on the settee together looking at this book over your knees. In one sense your history has rescued you from an immediate prison sentence because the court is bound to have some sympathy.

“It is aggravated by your previous conviction.”

But he said: “I am quite sure you specifically targeted this young man in the hope of getting sexual favours from him.”

Following the jury’s guilty verdict, Mullen admitted to a probation officer that he had assaulted the man.

Judge Woolman said: “I am prepared in light of your personal circumstances to suspend the sentence as after the trial you were prepared to admit your guilt.” He handed Mullen a 12-month sentence suspended for two years with supervision and a 10 year sexual harm prevention order.