Married father is jailed after claims he was ‘sleepwalking’ when he groped female wedding guest as she lay in bed
A father who claimed he was sleepwalking after being
accused of groping a woman at a wedding has been
convicted of sexual assault.
Matthew Forster fondled a sleeping 23-year-old woman in a
communal room at a hotel following the reception.
During his trial at Newcastle Crown Court the 37-year-old,
who has an art gallery in Hexham, Northumberland, told jurors he accepted what the woman said had happened to her in
the room must be true.
But the married dad-of-two said he remembered nothing
about what had gone on and that the only thing he knew he
did in the room that night was to go to sleep.
Forster said although he admitted he must have done what
the woman claimed, he was not guilty of sexual assault as he would have been sleepwalking at the time.
The victim had told jurors how she woke up during the night
at a hotel in Northumberland to find someone touching her in the darkness and initially froze but then fought back by biting her attacker.
Forster had a bite mark to his chest and a scratch mark on his face the following morning.
After four hours deliberation jurors, who had been told by Judge Guy Whitburn that being asleep was not a defence in this case, found him guilty.
Judge Whitburn, who said the case was ‘highly unusual,’ sentenced Forster to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 100 hours unpaid work.
Forster must register as a sex offender for five years.