15:00 Sunday 22 December 2013

Company boss sexually abused sleeping friend

Written byPETER RICHARDSON

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A RESPECTED businessman who sexually abused his friend while she was asleep has been spared jail.

Company owner and father Stuart Powell, 49, ran into the woman on a night out before taking her back to his house in Hilton.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, agreed to go upstairs to Powell’s bedroom as his son’s friends were sleeping in the living room.

Derby Crown Court was told that she fell asleep almost immediately before waking up to find she was being assaulted.

Powell, of Avon Way, avoided a prison sentence but was placed on a three-year probation order and ordered to attend a sex offenders’ group programme.

After her ordeal, the victim told police: “I don’t think I will ever feel clean again. I am afraid to trust anyone anymore.”

Derby Crown Court heard how Powell and his victim were friends but ran into each other by chance in Derby city centre.

They shared a taxi back to Hilton and he invited her to his home for a coffee.

Sarah Slater, prosecuting, said: “She fell asleep as soon as she got upstairs to the bedroom and is not sure how long she was asleep.”

After she demanded to know what he was doing, Powell handed over his mobile phone so she could call the police and he was arrested a short time later.

Stuart Newsam, defending, said the businessman’s reputation had been damaged following the incident, having been someone who was previously well-regarded in the area.

Mr Newsam said: “Reputation was important to him and he has sacrificed that reputation.

“Immediately the offence was committed, he was immediately apologetic, giving the victim his phone to call the police.

“He feels it deeply. This is not self-centred or self-regarding remorse. He feels the effect on his family and the victim’s family.”

Powell was put on the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years and must pay prosecution costs of £510.

Judge Hilary Watson defended her decision not to impose a prison sentence, which she said ‘would simply be a punishment and not offer rehabilitation’, as a jail term could not have included a course to curb similar offences.

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