Businessman jailed for molesting woman as his wife slept beside him

Businessman, 33, who molested a sleeping woman in hotel as his wife slept beside him is jailed for three years as judges overturn suspended sentence after appeal

  • Joe Holtham attended a wedding reception with his wife Sarah in Tetbury in 2019
  • At their hotel another couple and a woman were left locked out of their rooms
  • All agreed to share Holthams’ room with two women joining the couple in bed 
  • Court heard Joe Holtham sexually assaulted the single woman lying next to him
  • He was found guilty of the assault in May but spared jail by crown court judge
  • Today, Court of Appeal judges ruled suspended sentence was unduly lenient 

A businessman who molested a sleeping woman in a hotel as his wife slept beside him has been jailed for three years after appeal judges overturned a suspended sentence.

There were four people sharing the bed at the Hunters Hall hotel near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, after a wedding reception in April 2019 because one couple had mislaid their room key, a court was previously told.

Joe Holtham, 33, who lives near Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, was lying on the bed with his wife to his right, another woman to his left and a third woman on the far side. The third woman’s partner was sleeping on the floor.

The court heard that during the night Holtham groped the woman next to him, undoing her wraparound dress and unhooking her bra so he could fondle her breasts.

He denied her allegations and insisted that he only touched her improperly when he put his hand on her bottom thinking she was his wife.

However, after a week-long trial at Cirencester’s nightingale court the jury found him guilty in May of assaulting the woman in 2019.

Holtham had originally been spared jail by a crown court judge, but three colleagues at the Court of Appeal today concluded the suspended sentence was unduly lenient after Solicitor General Lucy Frazer mounted a challenge. 

Joe Holtham, 33, sexually assaulted a woman sharing a bed with him and his wife after she got locked out of her hotel room while attending a wedding reception in Tetbury, Gloucestershire. Pictured: Holtham with his wife Sarah

Holtham, pictured with his wife on their wedding day, was today jailed after Court of Appeal judges overturned his suspended sentence

The court heard that during the night Holtham groped the woman next to him, undoing her wraparound dress and unhooking her bra so he could fondle her breasts. Pictured: Holtham with his wife Sarah

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

Ms Frazer welcomed the ruling, saying: ‘This was a shocking assault that has traumatised the victim.

‘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, Gloucestershire, more than two years ago. 

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

The court heard that a couple could not find their room key for the Hunters Hall hotel and that meant the victim was also locked out of her room because she had left her key in theirs. They agreed to share a room with the Holthams

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.

Judges said the victim could not be identified in media reports of the case.

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