Jamie Griffiths, 19, must pay £250 in compensation to a would-be Oxford student after he was convicted of sexual assault for touching her arm and waist
A ‘shy’ university undergraduate must pay compensation to a would-be Oxford student after he was convicted of sexual assault for touching her arm and waist while ‘trying to talk to her’ in the street.
Jamie Griffiths, 19, inputted the search term ‘how to make a friend’ online before coming into contact with his victim as she walked to and from school, a court heard.
He touched her during two attempts to engage her in conversations last autumn.
The victim, then 17 and due to sit her mock A-Level exams, burst into tears during the second encounter and went to police.
Her mother said Griffiths would have touched her breast had she not moved away from him.
The teenage girl later described how her school work had suffered, she was unable to sit her mock exams and said the unwanted touching had hindered her application process to Oxford University.
In a statement to police, she said: ‘I felt extremely anxious in the following weeks, often breaking down into tears. I was completely unable to walk anywhere by myself without being overcome by fear.
‘The stress and anxiety caused meant that I was unable to focus or revise as I was continuously crying (and) feeling unsafe even in my own home.’
She said for several weeks she was ‘scared to walk by myself, with my parents having to pick me up and drop me off’.
Griffiths was convicted of two charges of sexual assault by Manchester Magistrates. He was ordered to do 12-month community order with 200 hours’ unpaid work as well as signing the Sex Offenders’ Register for the next five years
She added: ‘Every time I go to the place the first incident took place my heart stops and I mentally prepare myself to see him there.
‘All of this happening when I’m in my final year at school I’m afraid it will have affected my grades and potentially my future.’
Griffiths, who lives with his parents in a £650,000 house in the affluent town of Knutsford, Cheshire, faced a potential jail sentence after he was convicted of two charges of sexual assault by Manchester Magistrates.
But he was ordered to complete a 12-month community order with 200 hours’ unpaid work and sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for the next five years.
He must also pay his victim £250.
Griffiths, a first-year criminology student who is now studying at Durham University, had denied the charges.
He claimed he was a ‘shy, anxious and awkward’ teenager who had clumsily approached the girl in an attempt ‘to make a friend but the words didn’t come out’.
Griffiths claimed he was a ‘shy, anxious and awkward’ teenager who had clumsily approached the girl in an attempt ‘to make a friend but the words didn’t come out’
The incidents occurred between October and November last year whilst the pair were studying A levels.
The girl, now 18, said she had been walking home from an English lesson when she encountered Griffiths on a railway bridge bordering fields in the town.
He touched her on the arm as she tried to avoid him and he walked away, but she said she encountered Griffiths again at lunchtime as she was on her way to school to sit a timed English essay having been revising at home.
Describing the encounter, she told the court: ‘The pavement was quite wide but he suddenly moved to walk in front of me, looked me straight in the eye and touches me on my side and walked off.
‘It was quite a while – three to five seconds. He smirked at me, he didn’t stop he just touched me and walked off and I broke down crying in the street – it was quite traumatic.
‘I had reported the previous incident to the police days beforehand as (news) had been going around that other incidents had occurred and I thought I could give more evidence and then it happened again.
‘I felt very unsafe even in my own home (and) couldn’t walk to school for a couple of weeks. I wouldn’t leave the house myself.
‘Even today, walking down the street it just makes everything a little bit scarier if there is a guy walking towards me by himself I start to panic – it is just part of everyday life.’
It was not revealed in court whether the victim, now 18, has herself started a university course or deferred her application.
Griffiths was further ordered to pay costs of £735 plus a further £78 for damaging a teacher’s chair during an unrelated incident.
He is banned from contacting the victim for 12 months under the terms of a restraining order.
Claire Aldridge, defending, said the offence occurred whilst his client had been going through a ‘difficult time’ when he was forced to re-sit a year at high school.
She said: ‘He deeply regrets reaching out to touch the complainant and he apologises for any stress caused to her.’
Miss Aldridge described Griffiths as a ‘very, very quiet young man’ – but said he hopes to be able to continue with his university course despite his conviction, having made a ‘good start’.
‘He wants to address his issues and move forward,’ she added.