A “HIGH risk” sex offender sneaked up behind a young mum and grabbed her between the legs in broad daylight at a Wirral retail park.

The shocked woman, who had earlier been suspicious about him, screamed, causing him to run off with his trousers half way down his legs.

She dialled 999 and her assailant, Brian Halfhead, was quickly spotted by police from her description and arrested.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the 68-year-old defendant has 17 previous convictions including eight of a sexual nature.

Jailing him for 16 months today (Monday, July 1), Judge Robert Trevor-Jones, said that he was described by the probation service as a high risk of sexual re-offending and causing serious harm to children and females.

“With that assessment I must agree,” he said.

Kevin Liston, prosecuting, told the court that about 3.10 pm on Friday, May 24 the woman was walking in Rock Retail Park at Birkenhead.

“She noticed the defendant looking at her which made her feel uncomfortable and sadly her suspicions were well founded. 

“He was walking closely behind her and she felt uneasy with the situation and let the defendant pass her as she felt in danger with him walking behind.

“Following this the victim waited for him to go out of sight before putting on her headphones and continued to walk. A short time later she felt a hand grab between her legs from behind. 

“Understandably shocked, she turned round and said, ‘What the f…?’ and noticed it was the same male. He had his trousers halfway down his legs.

“She shouted at him and he appeared to be spooked and ran away but briefly looked towards her.”

Mr Liston said that police found him near the Fountain Project building in Chester Street and when he went inside, looking nervous, officers spoke to staff who identified him and he was arrested.

The court heard that the victim had been left feeling too anxious to even leave her own home and feared for the safety of herself and her children.

Halfhead, of Cross Street, Birkenhead, pleaded guilty to sexual assault.

Ken Heckle, defending, said, “He accepts it was sexually motivated but did not accept sexual arousal. He cannot totally understand his behaviour but accepts he was attracted by her clothing and hair.”

Halfhead resides in supported accommodation, which he will lose if jailed, and his psychiatrist is going to refer him to a consultant psychologist, he said.

His last substantive conviction had been in 1989, added Mr Heckle, who urged the judge to impose a suspended prison sentence.

Judge Trevor-Jones told Halfhead, “It is quite clear from the probation report there is an under-current of sexualised behaviour as far as you are concerned. This came to the attention of those responsible for our support in recent times.”

He told him that because of the danger he represents he had to serve an immediate sentence. He ordered him to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for ten years.