Abel Mahari (pictured) has been jailed (Met Police )
A man who sexually assaulted a sleeping woman after creeping into her bedroom at night has been jailed for more than four years.
Abel Mahari, 35, preyed on the victim after she left her balcony door unlocked when she went to sleep, putting his hand on her bare leg before touching her intimately.
The woman woke up to see the shadow of Mahari crouching next to her, and told Inner London crown court she feared the intruder was about to rape or murder her.
Mahari, who had been drinking heavily before the attack, had taken his flip flops off as he entered the bedroom, and left the footwear behind as he fled from the screaming victim.
Sentencing him to four years and three months in prison, Judge Silas Reid told him: “Her belief – quite understandably – after having the horror of waking up with someone sexually assaulting her, was you might have gone on to rape or potentially kill her.
“That was the impact your behaviour had on your victim. She was understandably absolutely terrified.”
The incident happened at around 5.45am in September last year, when the woman had gone to sleep naked due to the hot weather.
She said she regularly left her balcony door open at her Lambeth property for her cat to come and go in the night.
“You got into her bedroom, you touched her on the back of her leg and thigh, then you touched her vagina”, said the judge.
The victim phoned the police, and while making the 999 call she noticed Mahari attempting to return to collect his discarded flip flops.
When interviewed, Mahari denied touching the woman intimately and said he had entered her home by mistake. But he pleaded guilty to sexual assault before the case reached a trial.
Recalling the harrowing incident, she said: “Someone coming into your house in the middle of the night and touching you in such an intimate way is something that you think will never happen to you.
“My home is my sanctuary, I felt safe there and he has taken that away from me.
“Obviously something like this can happen to anyone, but everyone genuinely believes that it will never happen to them.
“Once something like this happens to you, it makes you more paranoid, you then start to think that anything can happen to you and that is something that I now feel. It is a horrible way to view the world.
“It has only been in the last couple of weeks that my confidence is starting to improve and I am feeling slightly more comfortable to go outside and to live my life. Since this attack I didn’t want to go outside. I didn’t want any unwanted attention from any other people, I didn’t feel safe being out in the open.”
At court, in an emotional victim impact statement, she said she is now “completely petrified that someone is going to come into my home again and attack me”.
“Before this happened, I was a very friendly person, happy and smiling”, she continued. “Now I don’t feel comfortable speaking to anyone I don’t already know.
“I find it really difficult to trust people, I always think the worst case scenario.” Mahari told the court he is “100 per cent sorry” for the incident, and said he has sought help for his alcohol problems.
Detective Sergeant Will Wigzell, from the Serious Sexual Offences Unit, said: “This was an incredibly traumatic incident for the victim, who has been committed to this investigation. I want to thank her for her time and support.
“The impact this incident has had on her is something she will carry for the rest of her life, but I hope this conviction and sentence goes some way to helping her on her road to recovery.
“I would encourage any victims of sexual assault to contact police. We have specially trained officers who are here to listen to you. This case shows our dedication to investigating sexual offences, ensuring that victims are heard and justice is delivered.”