A scaffolder from Stevenage has been given a 12-year extended sentence for fondling, kissing and trying to have sex with a woman who has learning difficulties.

Darren Swaine, 36, was caught on CCTV that was installed at the woman’s home after others had gone there and persuaded her to hand over money.

St Albans Crown Court heard she was more than 20 years older than Swaine – who gave her a false name when they met, claiming he was called Robert.

Passing sentence today, Judge Michael Kay QC called him a dangerous offender and imposed a nine-year jail term with three years of extended licence.

This means once Swaine is released, he can be recalled to prison at any time up to 2030.

Swaine had told the jury of six men and six women that he was not aware the woman had mental health problems, and that everything that happened on the morning of December 17, 2015, was consensual.

Swaine, of Cherwell Drive, was in a relationship with a 27-year-old woman at the time and had been out drinking in Stevenage on a Friday night.

The next morning he was walking home after buying cigarettes when he saw the woman, who he did not know, at her window.

“I waved, she waved back,” he told the court.

“She opened the window. I joked about putting the kettle on. She made me a cup of tea.

“She said there was a camera on the wall because of people robbing money from her.”

He admitted he told her his name was Robert, but claimed he always gave a false name in any situation.

The jury heard he told the police: “She made the tea and she cuddled up next to me. I just put my arm around her. She didn’t say she didn’t want me.”

He said they kissed, and that he fondled and kissed her breasts before they fell back on her bed. When he went to have sex with her, she said ‘no’ and he stopped.

Swaine said: “She was laughing and joking and said she hadn’t been that happy for ages. She asked if I wanted to be her boyfriend. I just brushed it aside.

“No way did I do anything against her will. No way I thought she had mental illness.”

From the witness box, he told the jury that in November 2016 he had been diagnosed with autism and ADHD and had felt lonely and sad.

He was found guilty of sexual activity with a female with a mental disorder.

Following the sentencing, Det Con James Milbourn, who led the investigation, said: “This was a horrendous case, not only because that the victim suffered such a horrific ordeal but that Swaine deliberately targeted her knowing she was vulnerable.

“He has shown himself to be a dangerous man so I am pleased with the judge’s sentence. Swaine will no longer be a threat to the public.

“I hope the victim takes some comfort in yesterday’s outcome and she can now begin to move forward with her life.”