TEN months after being convicted in his absence of groping a teenage girl, a Coventry man has finally been brought to justice after being captured on a European arrest warrant.
Although Jose Vieira had admitted what he had done when he was arrested, he fled the country before his case could be dealt with at Warwick Crown Court.
So because of his cowardly actions, his young victim had to give evidence during a trial in his absence in August last year on the two charges of sexual assault he faced.
And following the jury’s guilty verdicts, the police obtained a European arrest warrant for Vieira, who had fled to Guernsey where he was finally arrested earlier this year.
Brought before the court, Vieira (44) who was living at an address in Coventry at the time of the offences, was jailed for three years and eight months for the sexual assaults.
He was also given a consecutive four-month sentence for failing to surrender to his bail, and was ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
During the trial it was said the two charges represented two stages of a single incident which took place in 2017.
Vieira’s victim, who was 15 at the time, said in a recorded interview played to the jury that it happened as she was watching a film at an address in Coventry.
Vieira, who was sitting next to her, started to stroke her back, and then put his hand inside her top and undid her bra, which was the activity covered by the first charge.
And the girl said that after that, ‘he started playing with my boobs and touching my nipples’ before she got up and walked away from him.
Vieira tried to excuse his behaviour by telling the girl of incidents he had experienced as a child, but ‘to his credit,’ he then phoned his wife and told her he had ‘done something unforgivable.’
Lynette, McClement, prosecuting at the latest hearing, said that when he was arrested, Vieira made admissions, but sought to play down what he had done.
In a statement read to the court, his victim said: “After the incident I felt sick and ill. I feel disgusting and grubby. I have had thoughts of suicide because I felt I would rather die than go through this sh***y period of my life.”
Simon Hunka, defending, said: “He very quickly regretted what he did. Something must have happened to have caused him to behave in that way.
“In the March that year he lost his father, and the impact on him was profound.
“It’s not an excuse for what he did on the night we’re concerned with, but when someone is at a low ebb, it can be harder to resist any improper urges within them.
“He wishes me to express on his behalf the fullest degree of remorse,” added Mr Hunka.
Jailing Vieira, Judge Peter Cooke told him: “You are a man in your mid-40s who previously had enjoyed at least the outward semblance of good character, although there was dark behaviour in your past.
“Any good character you enjoyed has been well and truly spent. You moved from what first had the appearance of innocence to something which was wholly, unambiguously sexual.
“It is to your credit that you seemed to come to your senses and stopped what you were doing and became apologetic.
“You began the process of making admissions to the police, albeit limited.
“All of that meant that the case might have been predicted to go the way of a guilty plea, and her being spared having to give evidence, but your nerve failed you, and the case had to be proved in your absence.”