Recruiter, 32, molested woman sleeping next to him in hotel bed with wife on other side

A recruitment consultant has been convicted of molesting a woman sleeping beside him in bed while his wife was on the other side.

Joe Holtham, 32, from Henley in Arden, Warwickshire, was sharing a hotel bedroom with four other people following a wedding reception near Tetbury, Gloucestershire in April 2019.

The group had ended up sleeping together because one couple had mislaid their keys to their room at the Hunters Hall hotel.

The victim had her key in their room meaning she was also locked out, Gloucester Crown Court heard.

Holtham, who worked for Birmingham City FC for a decade and had hopes of a professional football career, was lying on the bed with his wife to his right, the victim 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.

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 the Cirencester Courthouse in Gloucestershire the jury found him guilty on Friday of assaulting the woman by penetration on April 12, 2019.

Prosecutor Michael Hall told the court how the victim “froze” when she woke up to the defendant molesting her.

He said: “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.”

Mr Hall continued: “She lay there still pretending to be asleep in the hope it would stop.”

He then told the court that Holtham then started undoing her dress before he molested her again.

He added: “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 Holtham had gone back to sleep.

She then got up, went to the bathroom, then lay on the floor.

At one stage 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.

Upon returning to London, the victim reported the incident to the police.

Holtham denied doing anything improper and said he had merely “felt her bottom”.

“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 told the jury.

“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.”

“I touched her bum – over her underwear – but then I came around and stopped myself from doing it,” he added.

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

Cross-examining him, Mr Hall asked: “Can you think of a good reason why she should tell such an appalling lie?”

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.