'Dangerous man' Michael Gallagher jailed for 14 years for sexual assault

'Dangerous man' Michael Gallagher jailed for 14 years for sexual assault

A MAN who police say 'poses a significant risk to women' has been jailed for 14 years after dragging a woman off the street and sexually assaulting her.

Michael Gallagher, 33, of Westmoreland Street in Darlington, County Durham struck on June 30 this year after a failed attempt to sexually assault another woman just an hour earlier.

He was sentenced at Teesside Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to sexual assault and trespass with intent to commit a sexual offence.

"Gallagher is an extremely dangerous individual who poses a significant risk to women," said PC Colin Dodgson from Darlington CID.

Followed victim

Gallagher was caught on CCTV following the woman as she walked home through Darlington town centre in the early hours of the morning.

After following her down several streets, he dragged the woman behind a wall and sexually assaulted her.

The woman managed to scream loudly, causing Gallagher to flee the scene, and called the police.

Fifteen minutes later, officers had located the suspect, tasered him, and brought him into custody for questioning.

Gallagher had followed his victim through the streets of darlington town centre before pouncing (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Gallagher was interviewed by officers, during which he gave no comment answers, and charged with sexual assault.

He was also charged with trespass with intent to commit a sexual offence in relation to an incident that occurred shortly before the attack.

An hour before attacking his victim in the street, Gallagher broke into another woman's bedroom and attempted to assault her.

She managed to fight him off before locking herself in a bathroom and calling the police.

'Incredible bravery'

During the hearing, one of the women bravely told the court how her life had changed since the incident.

"Simple things like walking down the street have become tough for me, I find myself crossing the road when people come towards me or are walking on the same side of the road," she said.

"I have had trouble sleeping and I think about what has happened all the time; every time I close my eyes, I just see the man's eyes staring back at me.

"I have had to seek comfort by sleeping in the same bed as my mum, it was the only way I could feel safe."

She added: "I never want anyone to go through what I went through that morning and I hope that the man who did this to me never gets to hurt anyone else in that way again."

PC Dodgson praised the women for helping to bring Gallagher to justice.

"Both the women he attacked have shown incredible levels of bravery in reporting what had happened to them and providing powerful testimonies; they should feel proud that by doing so [it] has resulted in a dangerous man being put behind bars," he said.

"The suffering these women went through at the hands of Gallagher, who is a complete stranger to them, is harrowing and has had a far-reaching impact on both of their lives.

"While nothing can take away the pain of what happened, I hope that today's sentence brings them some closure and allows them to rebuild their lives."

As well as his custodial sentence, Gallagher was also handed an additional two years on extended licence.