Insomniac van driver sexually assaulted woman in a field after offering her a lift home

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A SEX attacker who picked up a woman in his van and then assaulted her in a field has been put behind bars.

Alan Nicholson was driving his van through Sunderland at around 3am when he picked up a woman who had fallen over and gave her a lift home.

The claimant said she had too much to drink and a man in a van drove her to a field and tried to have sex with her. She told him no.

But the 52-year-old took a diversion to Ryhope Dene where he sexually assaulted the woman in a field.

James Adkin, prosecuting, said: “The victim went out drinking with friends.

“She had been told to leave the bar as she had fallen asleep. The defendant was driving a van.

“The claimant said she had too much to drink and a man in a van drove her to a field and tried to have sex with her. She told him no.

“She describes standing at the bus stop and there was a van nearby. The defendant was a stranger.

“She said he grabbed her arm and took her to the van and took her phone off her.

“She said she was taken far away to a car park and he sexually attacked her.

“The defendant was arrested at his home address and he was interviewed.

“He said he picked her up as he thought he had hit her. He said it was her who initiated it.

“He said it was the only place he could think of going.”

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Nicholson, of Wycliffe Road, Seaham, pleaded guilty to sexual assault and assault by penetration on March 2, a week before he was due to go on trial.

Caroline Goodwin, defending, said: “He suffers from insomnia and he would from time to time drive his van.

“There is no suggestion that this was any way a deliberate ploy by the defendant.

“The defendant has accepted that it was wrong and he shouldn’t have taken advantage of her in this way.

“He feels absolute remorse for what he has done.”

Judge John Evans told Nicholson: “Your case has been made more serious by the vulnerability of the claimant herself.”

Judge Evans jailed Nicholson to three years and nine months in prison.

He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register for ten years.