AN ‘arrogant’ former bank manager who carried out a drink and cocaine-fuelled attack on a teenager has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Judge Peter Benson told 31-year-old Paul Burns that a degree of arrogance and excessive self-assurance had been his downfall after hearing that he had now lost his job and was in a perilous financial position.
Burns, who has worked at various bank branches across West Yorkshire, was said to have been earning £38,000 plus bonuses at the time of his arrest.
Burns, who lived with his French financée in an apartment at Park Road, Elland, was cleared after a trial at Bradford Crown Court of a series of sexually-motivated attacks on sex workers and other women.
But the jury convicted him of assaulting one prostitute after she refused to get out of his car and the attack on an 18-year-old woman whom he tried to chat up as she walked home alone in the early hours.
Judge Benson told Burns yesterday he had already made a clumsy sexual approach towards a hotel receptionist before the teenager ‘caught his eye’ as he returned to his home by taxi.
He said the complainant had been walking home on a cold February night when Burns approached her.
"She was deserving of protection, but she caught your eye and you approached her and tried to chat her up,’’ said the judge.
"Then when she made off you followed her and she became very concerned and frightened as to your attentions.’’
The teenager, who cannot be identified, tried to push Burns away. She slipped on some ice at the entrance to a lonely country road and began screaming.
When Burns put a hand over her mouth she bit it.
The jury found Burns guilty of assaulting the teenager with intent to commit a sexual assault and Judge Benson said he was quite satisfied that he was trying to stifle her screams.
The victim managed to contact her father and was described as being tearful, upset and frightened to death.
Judge Benson said it was a significant factor that Burns had spent six months in custody awaiting his trial and he hoped that he had now learned his lesson.
"You have, it seems to me, a degree of arrogance and an excessive self-assurance which was your downfall in this case and might lead you to further trouble unless you take steps to control it and change your view of the world,’’ he told Burns.
"Had it not been for the time spent in custody it seems to me these offences would merit an immediate sentence of imprisonment.’’
Burns was sentenced to 12 months in jail, suspended for two years, and he must also be supervised by the probation service for the next two years.
He will have to do 120 hours unpaid work for the community and must register as a sex offender with the police for 10 years.
His barrister, Joanna Greenberg, said Burns had paid a heavy price for thoughtless behaviour in not recognising he was not fit to be out and about that night.
"This court can have no fear that he will repeat that behaviour,’’ she added.
"He recognises full well it was directed by his consumption of alcohol and cocaine.’’