A stag do reveller from Belfast who sexually assaulted a woman in England has been jailed for 22 months.
Pearce Armstrong, 40, from Mount Eagles Glen in the west of the city, pushed his victim onto a bed in a Gateshead hotel room last October before assaulting her.
A jury at Newcastle Crown Court last month heard how Armstrong had followed two women, who were not from the area and staying in the same hotel, to their room and refused to leave.
When one of the pair went to seek help, Armstrong dropped his trousers and commenced a sexual assault on the woman.
The victim praised two men from London who came to her aid, having heard the situation unfolding from the adjacent room.
She was said to have run from the room “like a startled rabbit” and the court heard how she has been left traumatised following the attack.
Armstrong pleaded not guilty but was convicted and subsequently handed the 22-month term at his sentencing hearing on Monday.
Praising the two men she believes prevented an even more serious situation, the victim said: “I can’t ever thank them enough. If they had not intervened I feared things could have been a lot worse. I owe them everything.
“This has been the worst experience of my life and although he has been found guilty, it doesn’t take away the impact of what he has done.
“If it wasn’t for the two guys I’m not sure what Armstrong would have done. It makes me feel sick to think.”
Northumbria Police also praised the good Samaritans.
“They entered the victim’s room, the man was topless with his trousers round his ankles and the victim ran out the room in a highly distressed state.
“They reported the incident at reception and police attended and Armstrong was arrested in the hotel,” police said.
Detective Constable Simon Dobson, who led the case, welcomed the jail sentence and said “the victim has been left traumatised by the whole ordeal”.
D/Con Dobson said: “I welcome the sentence handed down by the judge and hope it sends a clear message that this is absolutely not acceptable on any level.
“The North East is a great place to visit and we welcome people to our region to come and enjoy the culture and nightlife. But what we do not welcome in anyway are sexual predators who are going to prey on others for their own sexual gratification.”
The officer added: “The victim has been so brave to stand in a court room and relive this ordeal through the trial with no remorse from Armstrong at all.”
• A court report on the Chronicle Live website contains quotes from trial judge Rippon.
The judge told Armstrong: “You told the jury you were ready to have sex with her.
“(The victim’s friend) ran from the room, desperate for help and she frantically tried to get help from security, who, astonishingly, put her off and said they had to deal with a fight somewhere else.”