A JUDGE has decided that a man who admitted sexually assaulting a teenage girl should be sentenced by the crown court rather than magistrates.

Proceedings against Michael Winning, 57, of Mildenhall, near Marlborough were stopped on Tuesday by Mr Justice Greenfield when he appeared at Salisbury magistrates for sentencing.

He acted as the prosecution was outlining the details of the assault which happened in Marlborough in August, 2018.

He told Winning that the seriousness of the assault, which he had admitted when he appeared before magistrates in October, meant the case needed to go to the higher court for sentence.

He was released on unconditional bail until December 6.

After the hearing the mother of the victim said the whole family was relieved that Winning’s case had been elevated to the crown court where punishment could be more severe.

Last week she told the Gazette of the distress and trauma her daughter had been through since the assault which happened when she was 16 and attending a family party at a friend’s home.

Yesterday the mother said: “We are all over the moon. We were originally very disappointed that the sentencing was going to take place in the magistrates court where it was likely he would get community service and just spend a few hours picking up litter.

“Now it means that a custodial sentence is possible. We were surprised when the judge stopped the proceedings.”

During the original hearing Winning’s defence had said that he had been drinking and wished the girl had tried to stop him sooner.

The prosecution had told the court that the girl had at first been too shocked to react when Winning had come into a room where she had been sleeping alone and had kissed her and fondled her breasts.

Her mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons as her daughter’s identity is protected by law, said: “Being inebriated can’t be an excuse.”

Last week she described her daughter’s distress and said: “For the first few months afterwards my daughter was very distressed and couldn’t sleep at night. She spent a month sleeping in my bed. I am very angry that she was made to feel unsafe even in her own home.”