Torquay burglar got into bed with sleeping victim

mug shot Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Steven L'Hirondelle was said to be drunk and "lonely" at the time of the assault

A "lonely" burglar who broke into the home of a sleeping widow and climbed into bed with her has been jailed.

The 62-year-old victim woke to find Steven L'Hirondelle kissing and stroking her back at her home in Torquay.

She fled into the street, screaming for help from neighbours.

L'Hirondelle, 30, of St Marychurch in Torquay, admitted aggravated burglary and sexual assault and was jailed at Exeter Crown Court for 22 months.

Judge David Evans told him: "The victim feared she would be raped. That was not your intention, but it was a terrifying prospect that she feared."

Following the assault in May, the woman told police she did not want to go home, would never be able to sleep in the bed again and needed to disinfect her entire house.

Mr Martin Salloway, defending, said L'Hirondelle could not explain his behaviour beyond the fact that he was drunk and "lonely" at the time.

He had locked himself out of his own home and went into the woman's house "looking for somewhere to sleep".

L'Hirondelle told officers he had been to the house before to have tea the woman's daughter, but added: "Even with people you know, you cannot creep up on them."

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