Juggler fails in sex attack appeal bid

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A Chainsaw-juggling circus performer has failed in an Appeal Court bid to clear his name over two sex attacks.

Paul Barberel was branded a danger to the public after he was found guilty of assaults on two women, committed more than a decade apart.

The 33-year-old, of Chorley Road, Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, was handed a 10-year extended sentence, made up of a five-year jail term and five years on extended licence, at Preston Crown Court in November last year.

He challenged his convictions at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with his lawyers arguing they were ‘unsafe’ because the judge misdirected the jury.

But his appeal was dismissed by three of the country’s top judges, who upheld the convictions as ‘safe’.

The court heard Barberel attacked his two victims in terrifying assaults 14 years apart.

His most recent attack was committed against a prostitute, who he dragged across waste land before tearing at her clothes and performing a sex act – punching her when she tried to get away

That sexual assault was committed while he was on bail for an indecent assault on a student, who he grabbed as she made her way home from a night out in 1999.

He had dragged her down an alleyway and knocked her to the ground before groping her, the court heard.

The incident only came to light more recently, when Barberel’s DNA profile was uploaded onto a database and matched a sample taken from blood spatters on the victim’s jacket, left there as she fought to defend herself.

Barberel, who had previously run circus skills classes for children and performed for charities, denied any wrongdoing, but was found guilty by the jury.

His lawyers argued his convictions should be overturned, saying that the basis of the case against him changed during directions given to the jury by the trial judge - depriving him of his chance to defend himself properly.

But his appeal was dismissed by Lord Justice Aikens, sitting with Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Judge Melbourne Inman QC.