A man was convicted of sexual assault after he kissed a teenage girl against her wishes leaving his victim traumatised.

Davide Sardu touched the girl’s cheek before leaning in to kiss her face but she managed to turn her head so he ended up kissing her just below the ear.

Teesside Crown Court said the 45-year-old still does not accept that he sexually assaulted the girl but does admit that he has an alcohol problem.

The Italian national was serving a community order at the time of the offence after he brought part Darlington to a standstill while carrying a kitchen knife in the street and posting a live video of himself on social media.

Paul Newcombe, prosecuting, said Sardu’s behaviour had a devastating impact on his young victim’s confidence.

Mr Newcombe read out a section of the teenager’s victim impact statement to the court, he said: “She was scared to go to college and was considering dropping out.

“She suffered panic attacks and had recently seen the defendant in the town centre and had a panic attack which knocked her confidence.”

Davide Sardu arriving at an earlier court hearingDavide Sardu arriving at an earlier court hearing

Sardu, of Bondgate, Darlington, was found guilty of sexual assault at trial due to his behaviour on September 14, 2022.

Jon Harley, mitigating, said his client still did not accept that he sexually assaulted the teenager but conceded that he did have an alcohol problem.

“He doesn’t accept responsibility for the offence so there is little that I can say. The decision of the jury speaks for itself,” he said.

“He is working with an alcohol abstinence organisation. He is doing everything he can to address the issue.

“He doesn’t accept the offence but accepts that alcohol is a problem for him.”

Judge Timothy Stead sentenced Sardu to an 18-month community order, told him to attend 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days and carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

“You continue to deny it,” he said. “It has been very upsetting indeed for the young complainant, she was 16 at the time, she has lost her confidence and is disturbed at the thought of encountering you again.”

Davide Sardu when he was brandishing a knife in Darlington town centreDavide Sardu when he was brandishing a knife in Darlington town centre

Sardu was also issued with a five-year sexual harm prevention order and told to sign on the sex offenders’ register for the same period of time.

In February 2022, the defendant pleaded guilty to possession of a knife in a public place and to resisting a police officer.

Magistrates heard Sardu had been in Bondgate Tavern, in Darlington, prior to the incident but was asked to leave when he was seen with a knife.