October 10, 2019 4.23 pm This story is over 53 months old

Charity worker jailed for sex attack on elderly woman

He was supposed to be helping vulnerable women

A Royal British Legion worker convicted of sexually assaulting a widow has been jailed for two years and three months.

Michael Furniss, 62, of Shuttleworth Court, North Hykeham, was also placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

Furniss was last month found guilty by a jury at Lincoln Crown Court of sexual assault on the woman who was in her late 60s at the time.

Furniss, a former RAF serviceman who was a volunteer caseworker for the Legion, was told by Judge Steven Coupland: “You targeted her as a vulnerable person. This was and is an appalling offence.

“You have not taken responsibility for what you did. The only appropriate sentence to reflect the gravity of what you did is an immediate custodial sentence.

“I would be failing in my public duty if I did not deal with you in that way.”

Furniss, 62, visited the woman after she asked the Legion for help with her husband’s funeral costs.

During the trial the jury was told that following the home visit from Furniss the victim complained that he asked her about her sex life and if she was missing sex.

He repeatedly asked her for a cuddle and before leaving he kissed her, putting his tongue inside her mouth despite her begging him to stop.

The following day he phoned her and made more inappropriate comments.

The victim contacted the police to make a complaint and as a result, Furniss was suspended from his volunteer position.

Jonathon Dee, prosecuting, told the court today: “The victim was particularly vulnerable at the time this happened.

“It was the entire reason for him being there. He was supposed to be there to help her. It was a real breach of trust.”

Furniss had denied sexual assault on the woman.

At the end of his trial, he was cleared of five further sexual assault charges involving three other women.

Furniss denied all the charges and accused the women of lying to the jury.

Karen Walton, for Furniss, urged he should be spared an immediate jail sentence and told the court he is a carer for his wife who needs 24-hour support.

She said he was assessed as a low risk of re-offending and was himself vulnerable and in need of help.