A MAN continued sexually assaulting a woman in a dark side street despite shouts from shocked members of the public.

Ayman Ali was challenged after people became suspicious of him walking down the side of the Grill Corner on Blackburn Road, Astley Bridge with his arm around a woman.

But as they called police, the drunken woman fell to the ground and Ali climbed on top of her and began sexually assaulting her.

Bolton Crown Court heard how onlookers sounded their car horn and flashed their lights.

"Despite their efforts he ignored them," said Julian Goode, prosecuting.

The assault only ended when three men dragged Ali off the woman.

Mr Goode told how Ali and the woman were drinking vodka together outside the Astley Bridge Asda earlier on the evening of June 4.

But just before midnight Mr Shariff and his friend Miss Ahmed, who were in a car heading towards Bolton, saw the pair by the side of Grill Corner.

"Their attention was drawn to the male and female because the male had his arm around the female's shoulders and they were walking in what looked like a dark alleyway," said Mr Goode.

Miss Armed shouted at Ali, asking if the woman was his girlfriend and he replied, "yes".

But the woman was struggling to walk and fell to the ground.

"This defendant made no effort to try and get her up from the floor," said Mr Goode.

Mr Shariff parked up beside the Grill Corner while Miss Ahmed called police.

The woman was lying face down, with her trousers slightly pulled down while Ali, who remain clothed, lay on top of her.

"He could be seen thrusting his hips and his bottom up and down," said Mr Goode.

"Mr Shariff began sounding his car horn, flashing his headlights and shouting at him to stop this activity.

"Despite those efforts to deter the male, this defendant ignored Mr Shariff and continued."

As three other men dragged Ali off the woman and restrained him, Ali shouted at them, "I'm a dangerous man".

The drunken woman rolled down an embankment into some shrubbery.

She later made a statement to police saying she knew Ali as "Eddie" and admitted they had consensual sex the night before in a similar location.

But she stated that she was so drunk on the night of the assault that she could not have consented to having sex again.

Ali, aged 34, of Blackburn Road, Bolton, has no previous convictions and pleaded guilty to sexual assault.

Mark Fireman, defending, said Ali, who appeared in court via a video link from Forest Bank Prison, had been drinking as well as the woman.

"Quite frankly I don't think he recalls himself what went on that night," said Mr Fireman.

"It is very odd case," commented The Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Martin Walsh.

"On a factual basis such as this, one could well have imagined the defendant might have faced an allegation of attempted rape. But I make it clear the defendant is not to be sentenced for that."

He added that the prosecution are not alleging the incident was a predatory attack upon a defenceless woman and suggested the public might be better protected by Ali receiving intervention from the probation service rather than a short prison sentence.

Sentencing was adjourned until July 13 for all options to be considered.