A 38-year-old man, Lee Belsham, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for rugby-tackling a woman to the ground and sexually assaulting her. The incident took place on Sowgate Lane in Knottingley on the afternoon of 6th March.

The victim, who was walking in the park, was approached from behind, pulled down, and subjected to a sexual assault by Belsham. Witnesses observed a man fleeing from the scene. He was captured on CCTV leaving the area and was subsequently identified as Belsham by the police.

Belsham, previously of Ferrybridge Road, Knottingley, confessed to the sexual assault during a court hearing last month. He appeared before Leeds Crown Court for sentencing on Friday (6/10) and was sentenced to seven years in prison. Additionally, he received an extended licence for an additional three years.

Speaking outside court, Detective Inspector Rachel Darling from Wakefield District Safeguarding Unit said; “I would like to praise the victim for her bravery in coming forward to report the offences to police.

“She was subjected to a frightening and horrendous ordeal, but now I hope the sentence Belsham received will allow her some closure to what has happened.”

“I would also like to praise the tenacity of the investigation team here in Wakefield who worked diligently to ensure Belsham was brought to justice.

“I would urge anyone who has suffered any sexual crime to come forward to the police so that we can investigate it.

“We have specially-trained police officers here in Wakefield and across West Yorkshire who will offer support and advice throughout.

“We are committed to creating an environment where women and girls can feel safe and be safe and will continue to pursue offenders of these crimes.”

Speaking after the sentencing, Belsham’s victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said: “I cannot fault the support and kindness that I have received from the police from the date this happened.

“Everything that the officer in the case has done for me is greatly appreciated.

“I have waited for this day for seven months and I feel I can begin again now and move on.

“I will not allow that man to destroy my life.”