Elderly man admits attempted rape after climbing on victim while she slept

Durham Crown Court
Durham Crown Court

An elderly man who admitted trying to rape a woman after drinking heavily has been warned that he faces jail.

The adult victim of Brian O’Neill, of Westmoreland Avenue, Peterlee, had little recollection of the incident, Durham Crown Court heard.

Rod Hunt, defending, said: “This is an unusual case. The only evidence against O’Neill comes from admissions he made when interviewed by police.

“It was a single drunken incident in which Mr O’Neill stupidly climbed on top of his victim while she was asleep.

“He is a man of previous good character who is deeply ashamed of what he did.”

He added: “He was grievously affected by the death of his wife, which led him to turn to alcohol.”

O’Neill admitted attempted rape.

He also admitted breach of bail by failing to turn up for an earlier hearing in the case.

“There was no attempt by him to evade justice,” said Mr Hunt. “He has been ill.

“I have no medical evidence of that, but by own observation he has lost a great deal of weight in a very short time.

“Despite the lack of other evidence against him for the attempted rape, he is keen to take responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty.

“There will need to be a psychiatric report as well as the usual pre-sentence report before a court can decide the appropriate penalty.

“Given the unusual circumstances of the case, I am applying for bail to make it easier for those reports to be prepared.”

Judge Christopher Prince ordered the reports and sentenced O’Neill to seven days in prison for breach of bail, and remanded him in custody thereafter.

The judge told O’Neill: “Those who breach bail must know the courts will not tolerate it.

“I accept you have pleaded guilty, for which you will be given appropriate credit at sentence.

“But a period in custody is inevitable.

“Delaying your guilty plea by not turning up will have caused your victim further anxiety, knowing you were still at large and this matter was still unresolved.”

O’Neill will be sentenced on October 16.