A recruitment consultant who sexually assaulted a sleeping woman at a Tetbury hotel while his wife lay in the same bed has been spared jail.
Joe Holtham, 33, of Stratford Road, Henley in Arden, Warwickshire, was convicted for molesting his victim, leaving her with “mental and emotional scars which have not yet healed despite psychological help,” Recorder James Waddington QC told Gloucester Crown Court.
But the judge handed Holtham a suspended prison sentence because he felt Holtham was of previous good character, has a serious eye condition that needs surgery, and could lose his business if he were jailed.
At the hearing on June 15, prosecutor Nikki Coombe read a victim impact statement from the woman in which she said: “It continues to be the biggest trauma in my life.”
The woman continued: “I feel extremely violated. It was the most horrific physical experience I have ever had. It felt like I was an object that he could do what he wanted with.”
She said that for months following the assaults she was unable to be intimate with anyone. She described Holtham’s “audacity” in molesting her as “sickening.”
“For him to have decided that he had the right to put his hands on me in that way paralysed me in shock,” she wrote.
The victim, who slept fully clothed, told the court how she was woken by Holtham sexually assaulting her in 2019 following a Cotswolds wedding which Holtham, his wife, and the victim had attended.
The three individuals plus another couple had returned to the Hunters Hall Hotel but the victim and the other couple could not find their room keys so the Holthams offered to let them sleep in their room.
Holtham, his wife, the victim and the other woman were sharing the bed when Holtham assaulted her. She “froze with shock and disbelief,” said Nikki Coombe at yesterday’s hearing.
At last month’s trial, prosecutor Michael Hall told the court the victim pretended to still be asleep in the hope that it would stop.
Michael Hunt, defending yesterday, said the offences were not pre-mediated, Holtham was of previous good character, and that his business would be at risk if he were sent to prison.
The couple’s mortgage and the school fees for their children would be in doubt, added Mr Hunt.
He said Holtham also suffers from an optical condition which almost caused him to go blind and he is awaiting surgery on his left eye.
At last month’s trial, Holtham told the jury he had not done any of the things the woman had alleged but he did ‘feel her bottom.’
“I actually stopped myself when I realised who it was. I thought it was [my wife],” he said.
The judge gave Holtham a two year jail term suspended for two years and ordered him to pay £3,000 compensation to the woman as well as £4,000 prosecution costs.
He ordered Holtham to do 200 hours of unpaid work and undertake 30 days of rehabilitation activity requirements.
Holtham was told he will have to be on the sex offender register for ten years.