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Sex attacker in jail after escape

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

Leo Harkins of St Ives.

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A ST IVES man has been jailed for four years after subjecting a woman to an horrific ordeal that included sexually assaulting her, threatening to injure her with a knife and ripping down her dress.

Leo Harkins, 31, of Trelawney Avenue, pleaded guilty to affray, sexual assault on a woman, criminal damage and driving while disqualified as well as a charge of escaping from lawful custody.

Judge Graham Cottle told Harkins, a man with numerous previous convictions including three other assaults on women, that he had been "aggressive and extremely violent" towards his victim, making "horrible threats" to injure her with a knife and ripping down her dress before assaulting her.

The incident took place late on Friday, August 24 last year in the woman's home.

After the assault – which police say was exacerbated by the terrifying nature of the threats made to his victim – Harkins fled the scene in a car. She cannot be identified for legal reasons.

When facing Truro Crown Court at an earlier hearing in October, Harkins leapt over the dock and evaded security guards after being told he would be remanded in custody.

He was pursued out of the court building and across a lawn by two dock officers and four security officers.

Despite being grabbed by one officer, Harkins managed to drop over a ten-foot wall and run off along Pydar Street, before being apprehended outside the City Inn pub and returned to custody.

On Friday, Harkins, who police say is well known to them, was beginning a four-year prison sentence that includes two and a half years for affray, 12 months for sexual assault, six months for escaping lawful custody and, to run concurrently, one month sentences for criminal damage and driving while disqualified.

Barrister Jeremy Leaning, defending Harkins on Friday, said his client had suffered from "a chemical imbalance" which, when his medication was changed, brought about "a massive change in his demeanour and behaviour". He said Harkins wished to apologise to his victim.

Detective Constable Clive Addington from Penzance CID, who led the investigation into the attack, said: "This is a significant sentence for a repeat offender and it's very much hoped that Mr Harkins uses all the assistance available while in custody to avoid coming back before the courts again."

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