A FORMER sex offender was quickly back behind bars after committing two indecent assaults and stealing a bag of crisps within hours of his release from prison.

Instead of using his subsistence, or ‘gate money’, to arrange accommodation, Kevin Ambler went on a drinking spree after being released from Durham Prison, on September 2.

Durham Crown Court heard that on leaving a city centre pub he groped a 12-year-old girl in the street, leaving her distressed, before heading for Starbuck’s coffee shop on Framwelgate Bridge, where he pinched the bottom of a woman in her 30s.

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Chris Baker, prosecuting, said, when confronted by a member of staff, Ambler left the premises with a 90p bag of cheese and onion crisps.

He then shouted abusively to passers-by outside, before police arrived.

Mr Baker said Ambler, who appeared “extremely drunk”, continued to be abusive on arrest and later exposed himself to officers in the police custody suite.

He made no reply in interview, but admitted two charges of sexual assault and one of theft at a previous hearing.

The court heard he has previously served prison sentences of 30 months and four years for sex assaults on underage girls.

But, since 1998, his only brushes with the law have been for drunkenness and shoplifting, for which he served a short prison sentence prior to the offences on release, on September 2.

Ambler, 43, originally from Ryhope, Sunderland, was in custody for more than three months until a suitable vacancy arose at a bail hostel, before Christmas.

He was bailed on condition that he complied with the hostel rules.

A report on his compliance was presented to today’s (Friday, January 10) sentencing hearing.

Julie Clemitson, mitigating, said as Ambler is already subject to lifelong registration as a sex offender, there was no need, in his case, for a sexual offences prevention order.

Agreeing, Recorder Sophie Drake imposed a three-year community supervision order to include intensive work on a programme to address sex offending.

She told Ambler: “You came out of prison with nowhere to live and you should have been addressing that instead of going binge drinking.

“These were unpleasant experiences for those involved and it’s worrying you don’t see them as sexual offences, because they really are.”

Recorder Drake also ordered Ambler to live at accommodation directed by the Probation Service and pay a £60 statutory surcharge.