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A man who sexually assaulted two women in Widnes has been jailed.
Paul Garden, of Armstrong Close, Birchwood, Warrington, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court today, Monday 24 February, where he was sentenced to 7-and-a -half years in prison and ordered to served four years on licence upon release.
The 35-year-old had earlier been convicted of one count of sexual assault by penetration and one count of sexual assault following an nine-day trial.
During the early hours of Sunday 14 July an 18-year-old woman was walking home following a night out with friends when she was pushed to the floor and subjected to a serious sexual assault on Henderson Road, Widnes.
Following the attack an investigation was launched by detectives from Widnes, who quickly linked Garden to the incident. He was captured on CCTV cameras running towards his car moments after the victim was sexually assaulted.
Footage from ANPR cameras also captured Garden driving into, and leaving, Widnes in the hours before and after the incident.
Garden was subsequently arrested and admitted that he was involved in the incident.
However, he denied sexually assaulting the victim, claiming that he had followed her as he was concerned for the 18-year-old’s safety after seeing her walking alone.
He claimed the victim grabbed hold of him and that he responded by pushing her away.
Despite his claims, Garden was charged and remanded in custody.
Whilst he was in HMP Altcourse detectives continued to investigate Garden and discovered evidence which linked him to a similar attack in Widnes on Sunday 17 March 2019.
On that occasion a 19-year-old local woman was walking alone on Squires Avenue when a man jumped out of an alleyway and grabbed her.
The man repeatedly sexually assaulted the victim as she screamed for help before running off.
Once again Garden was captured on ANPR cameras driving into, and leaving, Widnes in the hours before and after the incident.
Mobile phone data also place him in the area at the time of the incident.
Following Garden’s sentencing, Detective Constable Rebecca Ellis, of Widnes CID, said: “Sexual assault is a horrific offence which affects victims in the most profound way.
“Garden’s offences have had a major impact on the victims, which has been heightened by the fact that he made them endure a trial and recount their ordeals in court.
“I hope that the guilty verdicts and the sentence handed down by Liverpool Crown Court provides a degree of closure for the victims and their families and that they can now begin to move forward with their lives.
“I also hope that this case – and the bravery shown by the two women – gives other victims of sexual assaults the courage to come forward and report what happened to them.
“Cheshire Constabulary is committed to tackling sexual violence and our Dedicated Rape Unit helps and supports victims of this type of crime.”
In addition to his prison sentence, Garden was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for life.