A RAPIST has been jailed today for seven years for a shocking sex attack on a vulnerable woman.
James Pounder was caged at Teesside Crown Court after a jury found him guilty of forcing the victim to perform a sex act on him.
As the woman fled after the attack Pounder threatened he would use a garden fork on anyone she told about what he had done.
She was found crying in the street in a disheveled state by a number of good samaritans who called the police leading to Pounder’s arrest.
He denied the crime and claimed the woman offered to perform a sex act on him for £20.
But he was found guilty of rape after a week long trial.
But the jury acquitted him of a second rape charge when it was alleged he had sex with the woman against her wishes while she was pinned down on a sofa.
The woman told police how she had been attacked by Pounder after she met him outside some shops in Hartlepool and agreed to go to a flat with him for a drink.
Once inside he started making lewd comments about wanting to sleep with her before he dragged her to a bedroom and committed the rape.
The jury took just four hours to return their unanimous verdicts.
Nothing was said in mitigation and he was sentenced straight away.
In sentencing, Recorder Graham Hyland said the offence was aggravated as the victim was in a vulnerable state from drink and because he threatened her with the pitchfork.
He said because of that the judge increased the sentence from five to seven years.
Recorder Hyland also praised the members of the public who found the victim in the street and went to her aid.
He said: “They noticed this woman in a distressed state. They could have driven by, it was raining, but they didn’t.
“Were it not for their intervention this matter might never have been brought to light.
“They went to the trouble of staying with her and contacting the police against the wishes of the victim herself.”
He awarded each one £100 from public funds for their help.