A convicted gun thug followed a young woman on a bike saying he was "horny" then tried to rape her.

Connor Johnson was locked up in June 2014 for handling a sawn-off shotgun discovered by police in Croxteth.

The 19-year-old, formerly of Mafeking Close, Wavertree, received 32 months in a young offenders institution.

Now 25, he went on trial at Liverpool Crown Court charged with a terrifying attempted rape and sexual assault.

Prosecutors said the victim spent an evening in 2017 with her boyfriend, before catching a bus to Kensington.

She stopped at a takeaway and ordered some food, then saw Johnson - who she knew, but not very well - ride past on a bike.

Trevor Parry-Jones, prosecuting, said Johnson smiled and she smiled back, then moments later he rode past the takeaway again.

The woman left and came across Johnson waiting by a phone box, who told her he was "horny" and invited her to touch him.

The court heard she refused, told him to back off and said she wasn't interested, but Johnson continued to follow her.

Mr Parry-Jones said Johnson repeatedly asked her to kiss him, said he had an erection and urged her to touch his penis.

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She again refused and he asked her to give him a "suck", before cycling away, only to lay in wait for her in an entry.

The court heard he forced her to the ground and again told her to suck him, but when she refused, he said: "Well if you're not going to give me a suck, then let me f*** you."

Mr Parry-Jones said she told him to "f*** off" but he grabbed her legs and tried to rape the "terrified" woman, who struggled and managed to push him away, before he seriously sexually assaulted her.

He said the incident only stopped when Johnson saw she was looking at a set of curtains in a nearby window that seemed to be moving.

The jury was told Johnson got back on his bike and rode away.

Police were informed and he was arrested, leading to an interview when he accepted seeing the victim in the takeaway, but denied following her.

During a four-day trial, prosecutors produced forensic evidence against him and CCTV footage showing him on the bike at the time of the attack.

Johnson insisted he didn't attack the victim and claimed that she was making up the allegations against him.

But jurors unanimously found him guilty of both charges, after less than two hours of deliberation.

He previously admitted a charge of witness intimidation in respect of a different case, in which he phoned and threatened a woman more than 300 times.

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Mr Parry-Jones said police were able to trace these calls, some of which were made from Walton prison, where Johnson was being held at the time.

Judge Garrett Byrne jailed Johnson for eight and a half years in total and told him to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

Johnson's gun conviction relates to an incident on November 23, 2014, when police chased a suspect, who had been observed acting suspiciously in a garden.

The man escaped after jumping over some fences but officers discovered the double barreled weapon nearby on Regal Road in Croxteth, and experts identified Johnson's DNA on the trigger.

Connor Johnson
Connor Johnson at the time he was locked up over handling a sawn-off shotgun

Johnson, who claimed he had only touched the gun when it was passed around at a party, faced a minimum five-year sentence.

But he admitted a lesser charge of possessing a firearm without a licence, on the basis the gun was not sawn-off when he touched it and had been altered afterwards.

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Defence lawyers said Johnson, who had convictions for threatening behaviour and criminal damage, had previously been shot.

However, Ben Morris, defending, said although Johnson "lived by his wits", there was no suggestion he was involved in criminal activity involving the gun and partial DNA hits of several people on the gun suggested it was being "passed around young people".

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Judge Robert Warnock, sentencing, said Johnson lived a "feral existence", with no visible means of support.

He added: "I make no secret of the fact that your background, your attitude, your approach to life is a concern to me.

"You must understand if you have involvement in firearms the likelihood is you will be very severely injured or spend the rest of your life behind bars."