Man jailed over sex assault on terrified pensioner
A man who forced his way into a terrified pensioner’s flat after kissing her on the lips before exposing himself has been jailed.
Meron Gebru, 26 – who a judge was told “towers” over the elderly lady – twice tricked his way into the block of flats where the vulnerable victim lived, in late 2017.
The father-of-two, originally from Eritrea, was jailed for 18 months by a judge on Tuesday, who told him an immediate prison term was the only answer for what he had done.
Gebru admitted sexual assault at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday.
Cathlyn Orchard, prosecuting, said the victim had been expecting a male relative to visit, when Gebru, unknown to her, rang the buzzer to the block’s communal doors.
The victim, who lives alone, answered “who is it?”, to which a man’s voice replied “me”, the judge was told.
Expecting a visitor, she buzzed the doors open, but when nobody knocked she opened her flat door, looking out into the corridor to see Gebru standing “about two metres from her door”.
“She told the police he looked dirty and spoke in broken English,” said Ms Orchard.
“He put his hands together as if in prayer and said ‘please, please, please’.
“She thought he needed help and she approached him.”
Ms Orchard added: “He turned to her and kissed her on the lips.”
The victim tried to get back to her flat, but Gebru followed then “leaned in very close and took hold of her hands”.
“She pushed him away (and) he continued to move towards her,” added Ms Orchard.
“She went inside her flat and tried to close her front door but he put his hand in the way to stop her and used force to open the door, then came inside her flat.
“She told him ‘you can’t come in here’, he got onto his knees and repeated (the comment) ‘please please, please’.
“She told him her husband would be back any minute to try and scare him away.”
Gebru walked to the door, but as he did so “turned to face her and pulled down the zip of his trousers and exposed his penis”.
As he left, the victim slammed the door behind him.
When police checked CCTV it showed Gebru in the corridor “with his trousers undone”.
The footage also showed “she is obviously slight and he towers over her”.
Gebru returned a second time to the victim’s front door, but was again told to leave.
The CCTV also showed Gebru, minutes before the attack, following another resident into the block and once in the building’s corridor, looking through the victim’s letterbox.
He was then recorded on camera, outside the block, “gazing through the window of another flat”.
Gebru’s image was circulated and following a media appeal, he handed himself in to police in June 2018.
In an interview he told officers he “must have been drunk”, had no reason to be at the flats, but answered “no comment” when asked what he was doing there.
“He denied he would have gone to the flats for a sexual purpose but could not explain what he went there for,” added Ms Orchard.
In a victim personal statement, read to court by the prosecutor, the pensioner said the incident had left her “so frightened” she had been left a “changed” woman.
“Every time her door knocks she’s worried who’s there,” added Ms Orchard.
Simon Hanns, representing Gebru, said his client had arrived in the UK as a refugee from Eritrea in 2012.
He added Gebru, of Teviot Tower, Newtown, Birmingham, was “a family man” who was currently living with his partner and had not been in trouble since the “unpleasant” incident.
Judge Mark Wall QC, who declined to suspend Gebru’s jail term, told him: “This was a serious offence which has had a lasting effect on your victim.
“The only way of dealing with somebody who forces their way into the flat of an elderly person, living alone, in order to sexually assault them is an immediate sentence of imprisonment.”