Husband sexually abused woman sleeping next to him and his wife

Recruitment consultant sexually abused woman sleeping next to him while his wife slept on his other side in hotel bed shared by four when couple lost room key after wedding reception

  • Joe Holtham, 32, attended a wedding reception with his wife Sarah in Tetbury
  • 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 Holthams in bed
  • Court heard Joe Holtham sexually assaulted the single woman lying next to him
  • He denied assault but was found guilty at Cirencester’s nightingale court

A recruitment consultant has been convicted of molesting a woman who was sleeping next to him in a Cotswold hotel bed – while his wife was on his other side.

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

Joe Holtham, 32, of Henley-in-Arden, 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.

Joe Holtham, 32, 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

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 on Friday of assaulting the woman on 12 April 2019.

Jurors convicted him by a majority of 10-2 on each count and he was bailed by the judge, Recorder Richard Waddington QC, for a pre-sentence report.

The judge told him he will be sentenced June 15 at Gloucester Crown Court.

At the start of the trial prosecutor Michael Hall told the jury that the Holthams were guests at a wedding in Tetbury, together with the other couple and the alleged victim.

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

That night, he said, the couple could not find their room key and that meant the victim was also locked out of her room because she had left her key in theirs.

It was agreed they would all share the Holthams’ room. Wife Sarah Holtham was at one side of the bed, her husband next to her, the alleged victim next to him and another woman on the other side.

Mr Hall said the victim felt Holtham groping her in the middle of the night

‘She says she froze,’ he told the court. ‘It took her a moment or two to come round – obviously, all the parties had been drinking.

‘She describes how it stopped but then started again. 

‘She lay there still pretending to be asleep in the hope it would stop. The penetration stopped but what happened next was that she found her wrap-around dress was being undone.

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

‘She had it tied at her right hip. She was lying on her left side. She felt her dress being undone and then his hand going up her dress, undoing her bra and then fondling her breasts.

‘It stopped after the fumbling of the breasts and she became aware that the defendant’s wife had woken up and there was some conversation between them, pillow talk in hushed tones.’

Mr Hall said the woman lay still until she believed Mr Holtham had gone back to sleep. She then got up, went to the bathroom, then lay on the floor. At one stage Mr Holtham sat up and offered her his place in the bed, saying he would get on the floor, but she refused.

The woman left the hotel without having breakfast after retrieving her room key and then went to her mother’s home and told her what had happened, Mr Hall said.

‘She told her mother that she had been sexually assaulted by Joe Holtham.’

Later, on returning home, the alleged victim told a friend what had happened and they went to a police station where the woman reported the incident.

Gloucestershire Police were informed and they interviewed the woman on May 20 before questioning Holtham when he denied that anything improper had happened.

He said he may have put his hand accidentally on the woman’s buttocks but that would have been because he was used to his wife sleeping on that side of him.

In evidence, the woman said when she felt the defendant ‘fingering’ her she was ‘in shock’ and she just lay pretending to be asleep.

She said that he later unhooked her bra and twice kissed her on the back of the neck. At one point he tried to wake her and he was moving around a lot on the bed and saying he was ‘really hot,’ she said.

When she had left the hotel room he texted her saying: ‘Would you mind chatting when we get a moment to ourselves? Sorry.’

She said she received two other texts from him asking if she was OK and why she was blanking him and he also tried to phone her once. She had not responded to the messages and had not spoken to him since the incident, she added.

In evidence, Holtham told the jury he runs his own executive recruitment business but in his younger days he and his two brothers had been ‘football mad’ and he was signed up by Birmingham City but was not offered a professional contract.

On his social media, Holtham shows that he worked for Birmingham City FC from 2004 till 2014 and now runs Avon Executives in Henley-in-Arden.

He told the jury he had not done any of the things the woman had alleged but he did ‘feel her bottom.’

He said: ‘I don’t know how long I did it for but I actually stopped myself when I realised who it was. I thought it was Sarah.’

He said his wife normally slept on that side of him at home.

‘I told my wife about it in the morning and I sent the woman a text saying sorry.’

He added that the bottom touching had happened when ‘I was drunk and it was dark.’ 

He also denied that he and his wife had taken cocaine that night.

Cross-examining Mr Holtham, the prosecutor suggested that his account of touching the woman’s bottom was ‘just a smoke screen to divert attention away from what you really did that night.’

Mr Hall said: ‘It is designed to bridge the gap between what you did and what you are prepared to accept you did?’

Mr Holtham said he ‘absolutely’ agreed that either he or the woman was telling lies about what happened.

Mr Hall asked: ‘Can you think of a good reason why she should tell such an appalling lie?’.

Mr Holtham replied: ‘I don’t know what was going through her head on the day.’

The jury returned majority guilty verdicts on both charges and Holtham will be sentenced on June 15.

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