A FEMALE shopper who was sexually assaulted by a street drinker has been praised for chasing him down and helping to arrest him.

Alastair Harrison was already drunk before midday in the centre of Exeter when he shouted a sexist remark at the young woman and then deliberate squeezed her breast.

He walked away but she got out her phone and followed him down the High Street where she filmed him as she confronted him. Passers-by were able to detain him until police arrived. 

The victim was praised by a Judge at Exeter Crown Court and given a Sheriff’s Award of £500 which will be paid out of central funds. 

Judge David Evans also imposed a Criminal Behaviour Order which bans Harrison from approaching or following female strangers.

Harrison, aged 35, who is living in a homeless hostel in Magdalen Street, Exeter, admitted sexual assault and was curfewed for three months, sent on an alcohol treatment programme, and ordered to do 20 days of rehabilitation under a community order.

The judge told him: 'This was the sort of sexual assault which causes females to feel unsafe even when they are going about their everyday lives. The effects are long lasting, even though the assault was short lived.

'I intend to order a Sherriff’s Award to the victim because of the circumstances in which she pursued the defendant and ensured his apprehension.'

Miss Emily Pitts, prosecuting, said the woman was in Exeter High Street on the morning of July 23 last year when she saw Harrison staring at her before he called out ‘sexy lady’ and reached out to touch her breast.

She chased him and used her phone to film him as she confronted him and a man working at a pasty shop joined her to detain Harrison until police arrived.

The victim’s impact statement said she still feels unsafe and a woman who witnessed the assault wrote that she was ‘extremely angry that men think they can get away with it and do what they want'.

Harrison told police that he had drunk eight cans of cider and could not remember touching the woman.

Mr William Parkhill, defending, said Harrison has extensive support from Exeter City Council’s Navigation Project to tackle his problems of homelessness and alcohol abuse.

Reports confirm he is making good progress, all of which would be lost if he were sent to jail. He is now motivated to address his alcohol addiction and is assessed as a good prospect for rehabilitation.