Sheffield Crown Court heard on March 12 how Paul Leach, aged 62, of Willowcroft, Dearne Road, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Rotherham, had been invited to his friend’s home on Christmas Eve, 2018, but he abused that friendship and trust by sexually-abusing her.
Nicola Quinney, prosecuting, said Leach had been invited by his friend to her home to spend time with her and her family so he would not be alone on Christmas Eve.
Ms Quinney added that there were limited sleeping arrangements so she allowed Leach to sleep in her bed as a friend but five or ten minutes after she had turned-in he moved towards her and touched her genitals before penetrating her vagina with a finger.
Judge David Dixon, who described Leach’s behaviour as “horrendous and disgraceful” told him: “You as a man thought you were entitled to chance it to try and see what you could get.”
He added: “You were in a position of trust, responsibility. This lady allowed you into her bed, into her home to share Christmas and you abused her in this way. You let her down in the worst possible way.”
Ms Quinney said the complainant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, froze during the assault and she told her family on Boxing Day and the defendant was interviewed by police the following day.
Leach, who was treated as a man of previous good character, initially denied the assault but eventually pleaded guilty to committing a sexual-assault by penetration on the day of a scheduled trial.
The complainant, who had a former violent partner, stated she was so upset she could not eat or sleep after the assault and it still affects her daily life and whenever she sees someone in a high-visibility jacket similar to the one Leach used to wear she feels uncomfortable.
She added that she has suffered with anxiety attacks and depression and she became uncommunicative and snappy and has needed medication and counselling.
The complainant stated: “I loved and trusted Paul as a good person and a friend and could not believe he breached that trust.”
She added that she had been left feeling like her home had become a prison but she has since felt some relief after recently moving house.
Defence barrister Ian West, who indicated alcohol had been a factor in Leach’s offending, said: “He’s shocked, disgusted and appalled at his behaviour and he’s very sorry for what he did and ceased drinking after this incident.”
Mr West added that references described machine operator Leach, who suffers with spondylosis and stomach ulcers, as a nice man who would do anything for anybody.
Judge Dixon told Leach: “You as a man thought you were entitled to take advantage of this woman and you did and the impact on her has been monumental.”
He sentenced Leach to 72 months of custody.