A SEX offender kissed and groped a woman in the grounds of Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital, produced a ring and tried to put it on her finger.

Robert Snell, 54, of Tunnel Terrace, Newport, complimented the woman in the smoking shelter, before he grabbed her in a bear hug, kissed her and put his hands over her hospital gown.

Moments later, he pulled a ring from his pocket and said: "If this fits, you're mine."

Cardiff Crown Court heard the woman invited Snell into the hospital to mollify him with a drink from a vending machine, but days later she saw him again lurking in the grounds.

"Bizarrely", according to Judge Stephen Hopkins QC, on one occasion he was wearing a hospital gown.

The woman then reported the sexual assault to the police.

Snell, who has been in court previously for exposure and making nuisance telephone calls in the 1990s, gave a mostly "no comment" interview and did not give evidence at trial.

However, a jury found him guilty of sexual assault.

The court heard Snell struck up conversation with the woman by falsely claiming he was waiting for his son and daughter to finish work at the hospital.

His trial had to be adjourned because the victim was so upset giving evidence.

Robin Shellard, for Snell, said his client was being treated for depression and other difficulties.

Judge Hopkins said the defendant has a significant chance of reoffending, but a prison sentence would not be the best option to protect the public.

Instead, he was handed a community order for the maximum length of three years, to which the defendant rose from his seat in the dock and asked for longer.

"You are, it seems to me, a ticking timebomb," the judge said.

Snell will also be subject to an ASBO, which prevents him from entering the Royal Gwent Hospital unless he has a pre-arranged appointment, an urgent need for A&E, is admitted as an in-patient or visiting friends or family and he will sign the sex offenders' register for five years.

"I hope for your sake, Robert Snell, we don't meet again," the judge added.