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'Sexual predator' jailed for string of assaults

Ellen Branagh,Press Association
Tuesday 08 June 2010 07:01 BST

A "sexual predator" who admitted a string of sexual assaults on woman was given an indeterminate jail sentence, police said.

Neil Bentley, 37, formerly of Bendbow Rise, Braunstone, Leicester, carried out most of his assaults on woman in the early hours as they walked through the city's streets.

He would approach the women from behind, grab them and touch them inappropriately, on some occasions trying to remove their trousers.

Yesterday at Leicester Crown Court Bentley was issued with an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP).

He will have to serve three years, minus what he has served on remand, before he will be considered for release.

He will also be on the sex offender register for life and was issued with a Sex Offences Prevention Order.

The 37-year-old previously pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual assault and two counts of extreme pornography, Leicestershire Police said.

A spokeswoman yesterday said officers launched Operation Quayside in April 2009 in the West End and Clarendon Park areas of the city in a bid to raise awareness among young women and catch an offender they believed was carrying out a string of assaults.

In May, less than a month after it was launched, Bentley was arrested. He was charged in September and has been remanded in custody every since, police said.

Detective Inspector Andy Allden said yesterday: "In our view, Bentley is a serious sexual predator and today's sentencing clearly demonstrates that the courts agree with us.

"Women throughout Leicestershire can feel safe in the knowledge that he is now behind bars and I hope all the victims feel justice has been done and are happy that the man who attacked them is paying for his crimes.

"Certainly many of them were in court today and it must have been very difficult to have to face him.

"I have a great amount of respect for their bravery, not only in coming forward in the first place, but also in helping us to secure this conviction."

He also repeated the call for any other potential victims to come forward, as well as any victims of indecent or sexual assault.

Lawrence English, Senior District Crown Prosecutor at CPS Leicestershire and Rutland, added: "These offences are serious in themselves, and the charges reflect that.

"However, what was particularly concerning was the nature of these crimes indicated an escalating pattern of sexual offending.

"The evidence showed he is clearly a dangerous sexual predator, and we are pleased that the women of Leicester will be that much safer now that he has been imprisoned."

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