Wedding guest who molested woman in hotel, Tetbury is jailed

A WEDDING guest who sexually assaulted a sleeping woman at a hotel near Tetbury while his wife lay in the same bed has been jailed today after an appeal.

Joe Holtham, 33, of Stratford Road, Henley in Arden, Warwickshire, had originally been given a suspended sentence by a judge at Gloucester Crown Court.

However, three Court of Appeal judges have concluded the suspended sentence was unduly lenient after Solicitor General Lucy Frazer mounted a challenge.

Lord Justice Males, Mrs Justice O’Farrell and Sir Roderick Evans, who considered the case at a Court of Appeal hearing in London on Friday, have imposed a prison sentence of three years and six months.

Ms Frazer welcomed the ruling.

“This was a shocking assault that has traumatised the victim,” she said.

“I am glad the Court of Appeal has increased his sentence today and I hope this brings the victim some comfort.”

Recorder James Waddington had imposed a two-year jail term, suspended for two years, at a hearing in Gloucester Crown Court in June, after Holtham had been convicted of “assault by penetration”.

Barrister Joel Smith, who represented Ms Frazer, argued that not enough weight had been given to the fact the woman was asleep, and therefore particularly vulnerable, when the assault began. Appeal judges agreed.

They heard the assault had taken place while Holtham shared a hotel bedroom with a group of people, including the woman and his wife, after attending a wedding in Tetbury more than two years ago.

Holtham had denied allegations made against him. He said he had thought he was touching his wife – and had stopped when he realised it was not.

Lawyers representing him argued that the appeal against the sentence should be dismissed.

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