A MAN convicted of sex offences against two female victims after a recent trial has received a 46-month prison sentence.

Paul Bell denied sexual assaulting one woman, and sexually activity with a child, plus inciting a girl to engage in sexual activity, the latter two offences relating to a second, younger alleged victim.

In each case the prosecution alleged the offences were committed after Bell had been drinking.

Following a three-day trial at Durham Crown Court last week the jury returned guilty verdicts on all three counts.

The 41-year-old defendant, of Yewtree Avenue, Shildon, was remanded in custody and appeared from nearby Durham Prison by video link for his sentencing hearing.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, read from the impact statements of both victims, who outlined the trauma and anxiety his offences have caused them.

One said it affected her mental health and left her feeling nervous whenever in the presence of anyone who has been drinking.

She said she found the whole court process, particularly undergoing cross-examination as a witness, “stressful”.

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“It’s bad enough that he did this to me, but constantly lying about it has been traumatic.”

She added she did not think she would ever be able to forget her experience.

The younger victim said she had feared not being believed and the whole ordeal had affected her education, as well as leaving her with sleep difficulties.

Ian West, for the defendant, told the sentencing hearing: “He had a trial. He lost and what I can say on his behalf is limited.

“But, he is of previous good character.”

Judge James Adkin told Bell he had left his victims suffering with “trauma” and “anxiety”, as a result of his actions, in drink.

Imposing a total prison sentence of three years and ten months, Judge James Adkin said “disinhibited” through drink, the defendant could, “not control your attraction to a child”, in one case.

He made Bell subject of lifetime registration as a sex offender, and recommended terms “mirroring” a restraining order should be made, relating to both victims, as part of his post-release licence conditions.

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