THE victim of a sexual assault said she would not have come forward if she had known her attacker would receive such a lenient prison sentence.

The woman, who lives in the Colchester area, was attacked by Colin Beattie when she was a teenager in September 2016.

She bravely spoke out and gave interviews to the police.

But she had to wait more than a year for justice and after Beattie, then aged 59, of Rochford Avenue, Waltham Abbey, admitted sexual assault.

He was jailed at Chelmsford Crown Court for 16 months in October 2017, put on the sex offenders register for ten years and was given a restraining order.

Beattie was released after serving half his sentence.

His victim says the time he served was not enough for her to come to terms with what has happened.

She added she was shocked after a friend was advised they might face a comparable year-long sentence for shoplifting.

“I just cannot understand it,” she said.

“It makes me so angry because a lot of people will go through what I did and not speak out.

“It takes a lot of courage to tell the police and eight months was not enough time for me to get my life back to where I wanted it to be.

“Someone I know was told he could get 12 months for shoplifting from Fenwick.

“It is really hard for me to accept those sentences being so similar.”

Guidelines say thieves can be handed up to a year in jail if there are multiple offences and there are aggravating features.

Serious sexual assaults can land offenders with up to four years in prison.

The woman added: “If I had known he was only going to serve eight months then I am not sure I would have bothered speaking out.

“Having to explain what happened is really, deeply personal and it feels like it wasn’t taken properly seriously.

“I worry about what message it sends to other people who are in a similar situation to me.

“Seeing how lenient it was might put them off from coming forward because you do have to be so brave.

“They might think it is not worth going through what I had to if this is the result.”