A YOUNG man wearing a Christmas jumper who sexually assaulted a student on a late night train has been spared prison.

Reece Diver, 22, had been out drinking with friends in York and started pestering the 21-year-old as soon as the group got into the carriage.

Durham Court Court heard he stroked her leg, tried to kiss her, asked for oral sex and said she ‘was a lesbian’ when she refused.

The court was told Diver had drunk around ten pints of cider during the course of the day and he and his friends were in ‘high spirits’ in the run up to Christmas last year.

Prosecuting, Liam O’Brien said: “They were all wearing Christmas jumpers. The defendant in particular was heavily intoxicated.

“It was a fairly lengthy incident.”

The court heard when the woman showed him a picture of her boyfriend to deter him from pestering her Diver punched the back of the train seat and said he would beat him up.

Mr O’Brien said: “She was shaken up and terrified. It was an awful experience for her.”

The incident started at 10.15pm on December 10, last year.

Diver, of South Magdalene, Medomsley, near Consett, pleaded guilty when he appeared before magistrates on November 21, the day he had been due to go on trial.

Durham Crown Court was told he was arrested in January after British Transport Police used information the victim overheard to track him down.

He got off the train in Durham and she had heard him say he lived in the Consett area and made caravans for a living.

Mark Style, mitigating, said: “This is a young man who has learned a very salutary lesson. He is not a drinker and was caught up in the moment.

“He lost completely control. His behaviour was boorish and totally unacceptable.

“He is well thought of, hard-working and he has let himself down very badly.”

Recorder David Gordon told Diver he had come very close to a receiving an immediate custodial sentence.

He sentenced him to 14 months prison, suspended for two years.

Diver will be electronically tagged for three months and not allowed to leave home between 7pm and 6am.

He must complete a 30 day rehabilitation order, pay £1,000 compensation to his victim and register as a sex offender for ten years.

The judge said: “This was a disgraceful incident.”