This man took ‘gross advantage’ of sleeping friend
A 34-year-old Gloucester man has been spared jail after ‘taking gross advantage’ of a woman when he molested her in her sleep.
Ashley Tipping of The Dell, Barnwood, pleaded guilty at the city crown court to sexually assaulting the woman on September 2 last year.
The court heard he had bumped into the victim, whom he knew from some years before, when out socially in Gloucester on September 1.
Richard Posner, prosecuting, said the victim was out with a friend when she saw Tipping, whom she had not spoken to for about a year.
She spoke to Tipping because she was aware he had been diagnosed with cancer.
They later went their separate ways and the woman went home with her friend.
“At 3.16am she received a text from Mr Tipping asking if he could stay,” said the prosecutor.
“She rang Mr Tipping and he said he’d had an argument with his girlfriend and needed a place to sleep. She said he could sleep on the sofa.
“But after he arrived and whilst she was in the process of clearing the sofa, he said she didn’t need to bother and he would sleep in the bed. She thought nothing of it because they had known each other for some years.
“She was wearing a hoodie and joggers and he was wearing jeans and t-shirt.
“He tried to hug her and she said not to, he tried again and another time and she still said no. She said in her statement that it would have been clear to him that any sexual advances were unwelcome.
“He took off his jeans and tried to hug her again and she told him if he did it again he would have to leave. She fell asleep with her back facing the defendant.
“But it seems he didn’t fall asleep – or if he did it wasn’t for long – and he didn’t take no for an answer. She was asleep and he put his hand in her joggers.”
Tipping then molested her with his finger, the court heard.
“She woke up, she felt him inside of her,” said the prosecutor.
“She said she felt sick and couldn’t believe what was happening. She asked him ‘what the f*** you doing?’
“He asked if she wanted him to go. She said yes. He got his things, said sorry and left.”
The court heard that Tipping spent the remainder of that day apologising and texts were exchanged between them.
Later on that day, a friend came to visit the victim and she broke down in tears, told her what happened and showed her the messages.
“She said she didn’t understand why he did it,” Mr Posner told the court.
“She sent a final text that said ‘You have violated me in the worst ways possible. I trusted you and you violated me. Please don’t contact me again’. He replied saying he was sorry and he was drunk.”
When arrested and interviewed, Tipping told police he had “obviously got the wrong end of the stick.”
Before passing sentence on Tipping, Judge Timothy Mousley QC heard from the victim, who read her impact statement to him.
“Now, I don’t trust friends like I did,” she stated. “I didn’t think any of my friends would hurt me but Ashley Tipping did.
“I am unable to have friends stay at home. It has affected by social life. I get anxious if left alone with male colleagues which leads to itching of my skin. It isn’t eczema, it only happens when I am anxious around men,” she said.
“I don’t know If I can have a relationship, I feel my inability to trust will hamper any chance of happiness.”
Judge Mousley told Tipping: “She made it obvious she was not interesting in anything sexual.
“You took gross advantage of a lady who gave you somewhere to sleep.
“It has deeply affected her and she is devastated and finds it hard to feel safe in her own home.
“Her statement today was thoughtful and measured and some might say you are not worthy of such a statement.
“You have told probation you feel ashamed and have realised the impact it has on her.”
Sentencing Tipping to 20 months imprisonment, Judge Mousley QC said he was “satisfied that there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.”
Judge Mousley QC suspended the sentence for 18 months and ordered Tipping to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and complete the ‘Horizons’ course with probation.
Tippinhg was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register for ten years and a restraining order was placed on him preventing him making any contact with the woman, indirectly or directly.