Wigan sex attacker jailed for vile assault of his pal's girlfriend

A Wigan man who twice sexually assaulted a close friend’s partner has been jailed for six years.

Friday, 3rd December 2021, 3:48 pm

Married father of one James Armstrong, who worked in project management in the nuclear industry until he was sacked for his crimes, had taken drink and drugs while at the couple’s home before slipping upstairs to attack his victim, initially while she slept.

The 33-year-old, of Gidlow Lane, Wigan, had denied two counts of assault by penetration, saying that the sex was consensual, but was found guilty following a trial at Bolton Crown Court.

As well as the custodial sentence, Armstrong must sign on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life and has been made the subject of a 10-year restraining order preventing any contact with his victim.

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The hearing was told that the two couples had been friends for years but on the night in question - December 20, 2019 - the 28-year-old victim and her partner, 36, wanted a quiet night in.

However Armstrong asked if he could come round because he was distressed by having witnessed a double fatal car accident in Billinge.

The victim’s partner told the Wigan Post Weekly: “I tried to be a good friend and so I let him come round. After that subsequent and ultimate act of betrayal, the irony is not lost on me.

James Armstrong was accused of the ultimate betrayal

“We had a few drinks and he took drugs. My girlfriend, who had been at work, only had a couple and then went up to bed because she was tired.

“He slipped upstairs twice and I assumed he had gone to the toilet.

“The second time he came downstairs he quite abruptly shook my hand, wished me a merry Christmas and left.

“Almost immediately afterwards my girlfriend came down looking like a ghost and told me what had happened. She was in shock.

“I was furious and wanted to go round to his house straight away but my girlfriend stopped me, saying she didn’t want to upset his wife and child.

“I was struggling to come to terms with it. It was something completely out of the blue from a man I had called one of my closest friends for 18 years.

“I texted him to tell him to come round but he wouldn’t. In the meantime the police had been called and they interviewed my girlfriend.

“She later went with her mother to the sexual assault referral centre at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester for an examination.

“After the attack she had taken a shower because she felt dirty and from a forensic point of view it wasn’t the right thing to do.

“In fact I am not sure what forensics, if any, they got because it was not mentioned in the trial.

“But in the end it didn’t matter.

“The clinching piece of evidence for me was the text he sent me in the morning saying ‘**** knows what was going through my head. Everything is at stake here.’”

Minutes after sending the text, police arrived at Armstrong’s home, arrested him and took his phone from him.

In interview he repeatedly said “no comment” to all questions, but 20 days later he returned to the police station to give a statement in which he claimed that he had been invited into the bedroom by the complainant who had removed her own underwear before he performed a sex act at her instigation.

He said that he could not remember if he then sexually assaulted her again but said he changed his mind about the invitation and hastily made his excuses and left.

At the trial the victim said she had awoken to find she was being sexually assaulted.

When she then realised that it was Armstrong, she kicked him away, telling him to go downstairs.

The hearing was told the defendant repeatedly told her “Shhhh.”

In a victim impact statement to the court, the young woman said that the attacks had hit her badly.

She suffered panic attacks, was “hypervigilant” and wary of leaving the house, she had started neglecting herself and it had adversely affected the physical relationship with her partner.

He said today: “My girlfriend had hoped that his conviction and sentencing would give her some closure but it has not helped so she is going to have to seek counselling.

“As far as I am concerned, I am glad that there has been justice.

“I am glad that his life has been ruined like my girlfriend’s has. He is on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life but it does not take the pain and upset away.

“The man I had called my friend died on that night. I don’t know the person who was in that courtroom.”

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