Sleeping woman raped by Hebburn man she met on mobile phone app

A sleeping woman was raped by a man she met on a friendship app after inviting him over on the proviso there was to be no sex.

Sean Bentham puts the woman on the friends section of the Bumble app and she asked him to visit her “for cuddles” after a night out socializing. A court heard she messaged him saying: “Want to stay at mine, no sex”.

They got ready for bed and the victim, who had drunk lots of alcohol, quickly fell asleep, with the pair “spooning”. Richard Herrmann, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court : “The next thing she remembers is waking up to find him having sex with her.

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“She froze and didn’t know what to do. She became upset and he asked if she regretted it. She said she had been fast asleep before telling him to leave.”

In what prosecutors say was an attempt to get his story in first, Bentham then walked to a police station and gave a detailed account, saying he’d had what he thought was consensual sex, after which she said she was asleep.

The victim, who had met Bentham once before, said in a statement read to the court: “I’ve gone through every emotion possible. I became incredibly depressed and had suicidal thoughts.

“I couldn’t function. I now feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, I’m incredibly grateful I was believed by the jury.”

Bentham, 30, of Morecambe Parade, Hebburn, South Tyneside, who has no previous convictions, denied rape and assault by penetration but was found guilty by a jury. He has now been jailed for six years and ordered to sign the sex offenders register indefinitely.

Sue Hirst, defending, said: “His position was he reasonably believed she had consented but the jury obviously thought otherwise. It was highly unusual he took himself off, walking a long way to find a police station and it was he who informed the police .

“He does have regret for the emotional impact this has had on her and the impact this has had on his own family. The situation was very largely caused by the isolated lifestyle he was leading at the time.”

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