A sex attacker was jailed for three and a half years after his victim endured “every woman’s worst nightmare.”
Preston Crown Court heard how Gary Baker, of Lytham Road, South Shore, lay in wait for a woman after sneaking in to her flat through an unlocked door on May 1 last year.
The victim woke to find him touching her thigh while he was naked from the waist down and knelt by her bed.
Baker, 45, had been at a party with the woman hours before the attack in a neighbouring flat.
She left at around 12.45am with a friend and found the door to her home was unlocked when she arrived.
Although the court heard she thought this was unusual, she went to bed but was woken up when she felt a hand on her thigh and immediately recognised Baker from the party they had both attended.
She challenged him and he fled the scene but his studded belt was left behind and he was traced by police.
Baker went on to be arrested and denied the allegation put to him.
He told police he was very drunk and did not remember getting home.
The victim had been severely affected by what happened, the court heard.
She became “paranoid” about checking that no-one else was in her home, suffers from flashbacks, has been unable to sleep or work due to her emotional state and is reluctant to go out any more.
Paul Robinson, defending, said Baker had taken advantage of a situation which presented itself when he realised the door to the flat was insecure.
He said: “He cannot recall the incident, due to his heavy use of alcohol that day. We will never know what his true intention was.
“A sexual touching occurred either underneath her dressing gown, or on top of her dressing gown.
“The incident had a significant impact upon her psychologically. One can understand that completely - finding a strange man touching you in the middle of the night.
“It is every woman’s worst nightmare, I would have thought.”
Baker pleaded guilty to charges of trespassing with intent to commit a sexual offence and sexual assault.
He was jailed for three and a half years, with a 12 month extended licence to follow, put on the Sex Offender’s Register indefinitely and barred from contacting the woman for five years.
Judge Michael Byrne said: “I am satisfied he did it with the intention to commit rape or a serious sexual assault.
“There can be no other sensible inference to be drawn from the fact he undressed himself, concealed himself in her flat, lying in wait for her to return.”