A PE teacher at a Pendle high school who sexually assaulted a stranger after creeping into her house in the middle of the night has had his sentence cut by a third by top judges.
Richard Duffy (33), a teacher at Primet High School, Colne, was jailed for six years at Preston Crown Court in October last year after he admitted sexual assault.
But lawyers for Duffy, of The Crossing, Hoghton, near Preston, said his sentence was over the top because the judge had treated the offence as if it were a rape.
Reviewing the case, three senior judges at the Court of Appeal agreed the six-year prison term was “manifestly excessive” and sliced Duffy’s sentence to four years.
Sir Anthony May told the court the victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had come home after a night out with her boyfriend in July, 2010 and the couple went to bed as normal.
However, the woman woke up later that night to find a man, in the judge’s words, “slobbering over” her and kissing her face.
The woman at first thought it was her boyfriend, but when Duffy started saying “oh yeah, oh yeah” and touched her, she realised it was a stranger and started screaming. Duffy left the room and, though the woman’s boyfriend ran after him, he managed to get away.
The police were called and the victim, who the judge said was left seriously traumatised by the attack, identified Duffy at a police ID parade.
His lawyers told judges his six-year sentence was too long because the judge had treated the offence as a rape rather than a sexual assault. They said Duffy had been drunk at the time of the attack, which had ruined his career as a teacher.
Sir Anthony, sitting with Mr Justice Bean and Mr Justice Eder, agreed, and cut the prison sentence to four years.
He said: “We have fully considered this case; it was very serious and disturbing offending and no doubt the victim will long suffer from the experience she underwent that early morning.
“Nevertheless, in our judgement this is not a case which should have been equated with full-scale rape. It was not rape.”
Duffy will be entitled to automatic release after serving half his four-year sentence.