Sheffield driver ‘sexually assaulted in lay-by’

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A LORRY driver from Sheffield was sexually assaulted in a layby after he pulled over for a rest.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was attacked by a stranger who knocked on his cab window asking for a cigarette before going on to tell him that he was a groom and once looked after opera singer Pavarotti’s horses.

Phillip Hafford, aged 50, of Long Meadow Farm, Jones Road, Goffs Oak,then leaned into the cab and indecently assaulted the driver.

He was found guilty by a jury at St Albans Crown Court and the case was adjourned for probation reports to be prepared.

A judge granted Hafford bail on the condition he does not stop in any layby in Hertfordshire except in an emergency.

The married driver from Sheffield, told the court he had pulled up on the southbound carriageway of the A10 just before the Hoddesdon junction in Hertfordshire at about 11am on Sunday, September 18 last year, when he was accosted.

He said: “I was asleep on the bed. There was a knock on the door and there was a man waving a pack of cigarettes.

“I thought he wanted a light. I gave him a light. We chatted about the lorry. He had a squeaky, camp voice.

“He told me about himself. He said he used to work for Pavorotti, looking after his horses. He told me he now works with four horses in Enfield.”

The driver said when the stranger started touching him he was ‘shocked’ and drove off after shouting at him.

He told his wife, but did not report it to the police.

But on November 5 the driver was parked in a layby on the northbound carriageway, just south of Hoddesdon, when the same man appeared again.

He said: “It was deja vu. I could see the packet of fags waving in the mirror. It was the same man. I just froze. I stayed there long enough for him to go. Eventually he got the message and left.”

The victim rang the police and Hafford was arrested after plain clothes police officers patrolling the A10 saw a Nissan Micra and noticed a man fitting the description of the wanted man.

They arrested Hafford and when questioned he denied the assault and claimed he had only pulled over because his lighter was not working.