A 29-year-old man dressed in a Superman onesie researched ‘sleep assault’ on the internet then chillingly tried to molest a schoolgirl as she slept in a hospital bed.
And he had previously taken photographs of another vulnerable sleeping girl whose clothing he had deliberately moved so he could get the indecent shots he wanted.
You are a man who has to face serious sexual issues about your attraction to young girls. Until recently you were in denial about what motivated you and about that attractionJudge Clement Goldstone
A judge told Leon Ridgeway that his online research “indicates a degree of planning and the depths to which you were prepared to go to satisfy your sexual urges.”
Ridgeway had denied the allegations against him but after expert evidence showed his online searches while at the hospital he dramatically changed his plea last month and broke down in tears.
Liverpool Crown Court heard yesterday that on May 1 last year Ridgeway was at the Wigan Royal Albert and Edward Infirmary overnight with his young step-child. A 14-year-old girl was in the same ward suffering from an eating disorder.
During the night he repeatedly peered through the hospital curtains surrounding her bed and searched on the internet for ‘sleep assault’ and ‘night time assault.’
Ridgeway eventually went into her cubicle and lifted the blanket covering her stomach, believing she was asleep, but when she opened her eyes he left.
Sarah Holt, prosecuting, said the girl, frightened by his behaviour, sent a Facebook message to a friend for help and she suggested she write a note for staff.
She did this on a paper towel and handed it to a nurse who knew who she meant as Ridgeway had been aware of him walking around through the night. The social services and the police were notified.
His mobile phone was seized and it was found that on eight separate occasions he had searched on the internet for “sleep assault” and “sister sleep assault.” It was also found to have four photographs on it of a 15-year-old girl in which she was asleep and her underwear had been moved to expose her bra and her pubic area in two of them.
Ridgeway, of Glebe Street, Leigh, told police that someone else must have been responsible for the photographs on his phone, which was used by others.
“He said he had never seen the indecent photographs before and thought they were an absolute disgrace.” Ridgeway admitted searching porn sites but said he had never heard of ‘sleep assault.’
Ridgeway admitted attempting to sexually assault the hospital patient, sexually assaulting the other girl and two offences of taking indecent photographs.
Judge Clement Goldstone, the Recorder of Liverpool, told him, “The facts of this case make troubling and very unusual reading.”
He said, “You are a man who has to face serious sexual issues about your attraction to young girls. Until recently you were in denial about what motivated you and about that attraction.”
He pointed out he had only pleaded guilty when an expert had destroyed the “last vestiges of your defence” and he had been in a state of denial but there was now hope that “depravity had been nipped in the bud.”
The judge him the community sentence he was passing was in reality a suspended sentence. He made a three year community order with attendance on the stringent Northumbria Sex Offenders Group programme and 40 days rehabilitation activity.
Short haired Ridgeway, who was wearing a grey sweat shirt and jeans, was also ordered to carry out 180 hours unpaid work and for the next six months is subject to a 7 - 7 am curfew with an electronic tag.
Ridgeway has to sign the Sex Offenders Register for five years
Katy Appleton, defending, said that Ridgeway, who has no similar previous convictions, was genuinely remorseful. “He is now separated from his wife because of these proceedings,” she said.