A MASKED sex offender who attacked a woman out alone for her morning exercise has been jailed for 12 years.
Thomas Joshua Bird, 30, didn’t speak as he sexually assaulted his victim in a secluded layby near a North Yorkshire village last June, York Crown Court heard.
She told police: “I thought I was going to be raped.”
Judge Simon Hickey said: “This man is every woman’s nightmare – an attack in broad daylight by a complete stranger.”
He jailed for Bird for 12 years with an extended six years on licence.
The judge told him he will have to serve between eight and 12 years in prison before being released on parole and can be recalled to prison the remainder of the 18 years if his behaviour causes concern.
He said only the woman’s courage in fighting Bird off had prevented him from doing worse to her. The attack had left her physically and psychologically harmed.
“She is a changed woman and will remain so, in my judgement, for the rest of her life,” said the judge.
He made an indefinite sexual harm prevention order banning Bird from contacting the woman either directly or indirectly and from posting anything about her on social media.
Bird will also be on the sex offenders’ register and disbarred from working with vulnerable people, both for life.
As he started his prison sentence police thanked the public for their help in bringing him to justice.
Bird, of Fairfield, Knottingley, was convicted by a York jury last autumn of two charges of attempted sexual offences, one sexual assault and one of failure to give police the PIN code to his mobile phone.
The judge said the only reason he could have for doing that was to prevent them matching his movements with those of his car which had been caught on CCTV.
Another woman had only been saved from a similar attack because she had stopped to talk to a fisherman when Bird was following her.
Undeterred by that, he had returned to his car and had then found his victim, whom he did not know.
For Bird, Chris Moran said he didn’t have any other sexual offences on his record. He disputed details in the probation report about Bird.
Detective Inspector Alan Williams, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “Bird’s despicable actions have had a catastrophic impact on the victim’s life, and he has created so much anxiety and fear in the local community.
“We truly hope the outcome at court provides a measure of comfort to the victim, and that she can slowly rebuild her life following this devastating experience.
“This was a very challenging investigation in that there were no witnesses or forensic evidence to go on.
“However, with outstanding support from the public in providing vital CCTV and dash-cam footage, we were able to build a strong and purely circumstantial case which proved beyond any doubt that Thomas Bird was responsible for this sickening crime. An extremely dangerous man is now serving a considerable prison sentence and will be subject to stringent public protection measures for the rest of his days.”