A WOMAN considered taking an overdose after she was sexually assaulted by a fellow patient at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary.

Hospital CCTV captured the moment when intoxicated Alex Balcombe, 27, indecently touched the woman as she waited at the hospital's A&E Department on December 12, Carlisle Rickergate Magistrates' Court heard.

But as Balcombe was sentenced a probation officer who interviewed him told magistrates the offence "appeared not to  be sexually motivated". 

Both Balcombe and the woman were in the A&E waiting area, him standing and she sitting in a wheelchair. She gave a female friend of Balcombe two cigarettes.

He then said to the woman: "Are you all right, man?”, the court heard. “She informed the defendant she was not a man; and that she was in fact a woman,” said prosecutor George Shelley. Balcombe’s friend also told him her gender.

But he responded by saying: "No way”. He then leaned forward and grabbed the woman inappropriately - at which point Balcombe’s friend 'whacked him' and told his his conduct was inappropriate.

Balcombe, of Greystoke Park Avenue, Penrith,  initially denied sexual assault but changed his plea to guilty.

Speaking about the impact of his offence, the victim said: “I was in shock at the time of the incident. I had medication on my person and I felt like taking an overdose. A couple of days after the incident I did self harm by cutting.

"I know this incident was a trigger.”

Steven Marsh, defending, said the incident was 'very brief' and that Balcombe’s intention 'was in no way a sexual one'.

“He does accept, according to the (police) interview record, what he did was wrong,” said Mr Marsh. “He says he would like to apologise for his behaviour and understands that being intoxicated was not a defence.”

The probation officer who spoke to Balcombe said: "This offence doesn't appear to be sexually motivated... But there needs to be something done to prevent a repetation of similar behaviour."

Balcombe had previous convictions — his last dating back to 2017 — but nothing similar. He had been out of work but was due to start new employment in a factory the day after the court hearing.

Magistrates imposed a 12-month community order comprising a rehabilitation requirement and 110 hours’ unpaid work. Balcombe must pay the victim £250 compensation and sign the Sex Offenders’ register for five years.