A HOMELESS man gave the finger to one of the country's most senior judges after she increased his "unduly lenient" sentence.

Philip Lesley Holt, aged 40, was jailed after groping a woman in Bury New Road, Prestwich, and trying to drag her among some trees.

Holt, who has previous convictions for sex and violent crimes, was sentenced to two years and three months.

But the sentence has now been upped to three years and four months at the Court of Appeal in London because it was deemed too soft.

Holt appeared bored, yawning during the hearing, before raising his middle finger to Lady Justice Rafferty.

He appeared via a video link from prison and his obscene gesture was captured in freeze frame as court staff cut the link.

One witness to the proceedings said: "I knew he was going to do something. I'm surprised she didn't add another month on his sentence."

The court heard Holt had 18 previous convictions, including for sexually assaulting a child in 2006.

More recent offences involved affray, assault, threatening behaviour and exposing himself to a teenager.

In October last year, a woman was walking home from a takeaway when she was accosted by Holt near a park in Bury New Road.

He put his hand over her mouth, groped her breasts and tried to drag her among some trees.

She screamed, fought back and Holt ran off.

Police identified Holt because he had left his bag in the park nearby and, while they were searching it, his mum rang.

Holt was jailed at Manchester Crown Court in April after admitting sexual assault and breaching an order banning him from approaching women in the street.

The case reached court again after a reference by solicitor general, Robert Buckland QC, on the basis that the sentence was "unduly lenient".

Giving judgment, Lady Justice Rafferty said: "In our view, the sentence was unduly lenient and we quash the term of 27 months."

The judge increased the sentence to three years and four months.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Buckland said: "Holt represents a significant risk to members of the public, women in particular, and it is important that this is reflected in the sentence."