A NORTHWICH man who tried to rape his former neighbour has been jailed.

Brandon Bentley, now of Victoria Road, was sentenced to eight years, of which he'll serve at least five behind bars, after being found guilty of sexual offences and attempted rape.

During the trial at Chester Crown Court, the 26-year-old repeatedly denied these allegations and claimed the victim made the whole thing up.

Sentencing, Judge Simon Berkson said: “You were convicted by the jury on overwhelming evidence.

“In the trial, you suggested the victim had made it all up.

“You were the one who lied during the trial, not her.

"It can be only hoped that the jury’s verdict and the sentence I am about to impose can allow her to move on.”

Northwich Guardian: Brandon BentleyBrandon Bentley (Image: Cheshire Police)

On the night of November 13, 2021, Bentley was smoking in his car outside his apartment complex in Crewe.

Claiming he was grieving and feeling suicidal following the death of his nan, he asked his neighbour, whom he had spoken to often, to comfort him.

After an hour or so of talking he tried to kiss her. She was able to escape the vehicle and went to her flat, with Bentley following.

“Your intention by now, I'm sure, is that you wanted to rape that girl,” Mr Berkson said.

Bentley pushed the victim onto her bed and proceeded to sexually assault her before then trying to rape her in the hallway as she tried to escape.

The following morning, she called her mother and reported it to the police, with Bentley arrested the next day.

Semen was found on the victim’s knickers and a t-shirt with semen on it was discovered in his car.

On the final day of the trial (February 23), Oliver King, prosecuting, said there were 'two competing narratives' being told to the jury, which cannot both be right.

“There’s no overlap, no middle ground, no grey area,” he said.

“Mr Bentley is saying there was absolutely no contact at all between them and that for some reason, unknown to him, the victim has hatched a wicked plan to frame him.

“If you think the victim has faked all this, then you will be preventing a terrible miscarriage of justice when you find him not guilty."

Defending, Milena Bennett said the victim made up a 'fantasy' to get Bentley in trouble.

Among other things, the defence claimed the victim managed to get the t-shirt from the car, wipe it on her knickers, and then put it back in the car.

After around three and a half hours of deliberating, the jury reached a majority guilty verdict on all four charges - attempt to rape, sexual assault, assault by penetration and causing a female to engage in non-penetrative sexual activity.

Mr King then read out a statement from the victim, which said she was a 'happy and healthy' person before the incident who was hoping to become a dance teacher.

The victim's statement continued: “Certain things cause me to have palpitations, I get flashbacks when I see someone wearing a grey tracksuit.

“I feel like he’s everywhere I turn. I have had to move back in with my parents, I feel I have lost my independence.

“I worry I will never feel as happy as I did before the incident.

“I still am who I am deep inside and that is one thing he can never take away.”

Alongside the jail sentence, Mr Berkson issued a restraining order and ordered Bentley to sign the sex offenders registry and pay a £190 surcharge.