9:34am Monday 28th February 2011
By Jon Livesey
A FORMER Lancashire PE teacher who sneaked into a house and sexually assaulted a stranger as she slept next to her boyfriend has had his sentence cut by two years.
Richard Duffy, 33, was jailed for six years at Preston Crown Court in October last year after he admitted sexual assault.
But lawyers for Duffy, of The Crossing, Hoghton, said his sentence was over the top because the judge had treated the offence as if it was a rape.
Three senior judges at the Court of Appeal have agreed the six-year term was ‘manifestly excessive’ and sliced Duffy's sentence by a third — to four years.
Sir Anthony May told the court the victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had come home after a night out with her boyfriend in July last year and the couple went to bed as normal.
However, the woman woke up later that night to find a man, in the judge’s words, ‘slobbering over’ her and kissing her face.
The woman at first thought it was her boyfriend, but when Duffy, who taught at Primet High School, Colne, started saying ‘oh yeah, oh yeah’ and touched her, she realised it was a stranger and started screaming.
Duffy left the room and, though the woman's boyfriend ran after him, he managed to get away.
The police were called and the victim, who the judge said was left ser-iously traumatised by the attack, identified Duffy at a police ID parade.
His lawyers told judges his six-year sentence was too long because the judge had treated the offence as a rape rather than a sexual assault.
They said Duffy had been drunk at the time of the attack, which had ruined his career as a teacher.
Sir Anthony, sitting with Mr Justice Bean and Mr Justice Eder, agreed, and cut the prison sentence to four years.
He said: “We have fully considered this case; it was very serious and disturbing, offending and no doubt the victim will long suffer from the experience she under-went that early morning.
“Nevertheless, in our judgement this is not a case which should have been equated with full-scale rape.
“It was not rape.”
Duffy, who was a promising footballer having played for Accrington Stanley reserves, will be entitled to automatic release after serving half of his four-year sentence.
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