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Argos worker William Merchant jailed for sexual assaulting work colleague in Deal

By Paul Hooper

A charity shop worker downed ten beers and groped a colleague on his first day in his job.

William Merchant smacked the bottom of a female worker demanding: "Give me a kiss".

Then the 50-year-old fondled the breasts of the startled assistant before menacingly telling the petrified woman: “I will be back here tomorrow and so will you.”

Billy Merchant was jailed
Billy Merchant was jailed

Canterbury Crown Court heard the victim was left so traumatised by the attack she has been unable to return to the job she loved.

Now Merchant, who has moved from Ramsgate to Croydon, has been jailed for two and a half years and banned from going to Deal for 10 years.

Prosecutor Siobhan Molloy said Merchant, who worked as an Argos delivery driver, had been ordered to do unpaid work in the charity shop for punishment for a drink driving offence.

But in January he turned up for his first day, told staff to call him Billy and tried to persuade an assistant to falsify work records.

“The victim said he smelled strongly of alcohol and she offered him the visitor’s book to sign, and he scribbled something which was unreadable,” she said.

“As the victim was sorting out clothes in the shop, Merchant appeared behind her and grabbed her in a tight bear hug before slapping her bottom really hard.

“He then began saying: ‘Go on give me a kiss...give me a kiss, no-one can see’ before kissing her cheek.

“She froze,” added the prosecutor.

Ms Molloy said that after fighting him off, Merchant left for between five and 10 minutes before returning and sexually molesting the petrified woman a second time.

The pervert, whose partner is standing by him, then said he would be returning the next day and told her: “I will be back here... and so will you.”

When she said she wouldn’t, he told her in a ‘menacing way’: “Yes you will.”

Judge Julian Smith was told the victim had suffered severe psychological harm by the attack.

Paul Hogben, defending Merchant, who was convicted of sexual assault, said: “This was an unpleasant and nasty offence and he is now deeply ashamed and remorseful.”

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