A 'SEXUAL predator' is now behind bars after he assaulted a sleeping woman in her own bed.

Daniel Edwards was convicted by majority verdict of assault by penetration at Worcester Crown Court today following the attack in a flat in Warndon, Worcester in the summer of 2013.

The grandmother, who gave evidence without a screen to protect her identity, has been praised by police and the sentencing judge for her bravery.

Edwards, 28, who was living in Warndon at the time but now lives at St Agatha's Road, Pershore was cleared of assault by penetration against a girl aged 13 to 15 in Warndon, Worcester which was alleged to have taken place between 2008 and 2011. The jury also cleared him of trespass with intent to commit a sexual offence after he climbed in through a woman's kitchen window. The guilty verdict was delivered by a majority of 10-2 after the panel failed to reach a unanimous verdict.

While the jury accepted that Edwards sexually assaulted the woman, their verdict of not guilty for the trespass offence meant they did not believe Edwards entered her home with the intention of assaulting her.

The jury had been out four hours and 28 minutes when the foreman announced the verdicts.

The verdicts were greeted with muted gasps and later with sobs from the public gallery.

Edwards, carrying a bag and wearing a dark suit, showed little emotion as the guilty verdict was returned and he was led down into the cells.

In the summer of 2013 the woman woke up to discover Edwards, who was 'half-naked', sexually assaulting her using his fingers.

To begin with she thought she was having a 'bad dream' and then feared she was going to be strangled.

In his closing speech Adam Western, for Edwards, had tried to suggest to the jury that the sexual assault was 'a vivid dream, perhaps brought on by a cocktail of cider, Bacardi and Valium' but in the end the jury believed her and not him.

When she woke up the victim swore, asked Edwards what he was doing and told him to get out of her house. Edwards had denied any assault took place, claiming he only shook her to wake her and was simply looking for somewhere to stay because he was locked out of his home.

The same woman had previously told Edwards she was 'old enough to be his mum' as she rebuffed him.

The court heard how Edwards was punched in the face and suffered two black eyes after allegations came to light.

Judge Nicholas Cole said: "She was fast asleep. Having entered her bedroom, you decided to assault her sexually."

The assault took place despite the woman wearing pyjamas, cycling shorts and sanitary products, the judge said.

Judge Cole added: "She initially did not know what was happening. She had to summon the courage to turn around because you were behind her in the bed.

"The effect on her has been ongoing. She has described not being able to sleep at night and that is understandable given that you invaded the sanctity of not only her home but her bedroom late at night."

The judge said the offence was aggravated because it was committed in the early hours of the morning and by the fact that Edwards had been drinking.

However, he balanced this against the defendant's relative youth at the time of the offence and his lack of previous convictions.

The judge jailed him for six years, half of which he can expect to serve in custody and the remaining half on licence in the community.

As a convicted sex offender Edwards is subject to notification requirements for an indefinite period. This means he must inform police of any change of name or address and is also barred from working with children or other vulnerable people.

Speaking after the hearing, the victim, aged in her 40s, said she had wanted an apology from Edwards but had never received one.

To her this suggested Edwards had 'no conscience' about what he had done to her. If he had apologised she said she would have told him to 'get help'.

The woman, who declined the use of a screen when she gave evidence during the trial, said: "I'm still sad. I take no pleasure from this. It's a whole sad scenario for him (Edwards) and his daughter."

But the grandmother also spoke of the impact on her and her family. Her daughter would not let the victim's grandchild come to the house because of what had happened there.

"She did not think it was safe" said the victim.

The woman, who cannot be identified, often sleeps on the sofa of her home because she cannot bear to sleep on the same bed where she was assaulted, has suffered mental health problems, has to see a psychiatrist and has been prescribed antidepressants.

Fighting back tears, she said she hoped the verdict could begin to bring her closure. She said: "I still can't believe it's real."

Speaking of Edwards she said: "He's a sexual predator. I think women are safer now."

She also wished to thank West Mercia Police and her friends who had supported every day at court.

"They have been my rock. I could not have done it without them," she said.

Worcester CID Detective Inspector, Tony Garner said: "We welcome the sentencing of Daniel Edwards.

“The victim has shown incredible bravery in coming forward, and although there may be more tough times ahead, I hope this sentence will help her have a sense of closure.”

If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, recently or in the past, please contact West Mercia Police on telephone 101.

Anyone who is a victim of any sexual assault who feels they may need support, or may not want to contact the police can contact West Mercia Police's Victim Advice Line which is a free, independent and confidential support service. People can call 0800 952 3000 or visit www.victimadviceline.org.uk.