A CONVICTED rapist who threatened a woman with a knife on a Calderdale canal towpath has been jailed for five years.
Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday that 43-year-old Paul Sykes had been sentenced to 16 years behind bars back in 1989 for a series of offences, including rape and robbery, and in 2000 he was given a three-year jail term for possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.
In September last year, just two months after his release, he confronted a medical secretary as she enjoyed a lunchtime walk along the Calder and Hebble canal between Brighouse and Elland.
Prosecutor Yunus Valli described how the woman was near the Cromwell Lock when she came across Sykes who was carrying an old kitchen knife with a 4in blade.
"He said to her: `Go back in the bushes' in a calm and quiet voice," said Mr Valli.
"She shouted help and the next thing she recalls is being on the ground with the defendant kneeling next to her."
Mr Valli said she wasn't sure whether she had fainted, but Sykes was next to her holding the knife very close.
He told her not to scream or he would cut her and pinned her down on the ground.
"She asked him not to hurt her and asked if he wanted any money," said Mr Valli.
As she went to get her bag Sykes, of Poplar View, Lightcliffe, near Halifax, suddenly said he was sorry and she was able to run off.
As she fled he shouted: "Please don't report me."
Mr Valli said the woman had been left shocked and traumatised by the incident and was extremely frightened to go out alone afterwards.
Sykes was arrested in January after police obtained a DNA match from a baseball cap left at the scene.
He was eventually picked out during identification procedures by another female walker who had spotted him shortly before the attack.
In April Sykes pleaded guilty to charges of affray and possessing an offensive weapon.
The court heard that he still maintained that there was no sexual motive behind the attack.
Judge Kerry Macgill
suggested that Sykes should be put on a sex offender programme while serving his sentence.