A DRUNKEN student who groped a sleeping woman during his university’s freshers’ week was freed from jail by top judges today.
Christopher Turner, of Felsham Square, Sunderland, was caged for seven months at Preston Crown on January 8 after he admitted sexually assaulting his victim.
Turner, a promising young student, fell from grace after a prolonged drinking session in Preston town centre during the University of Central Lancaster’s freshers’ week in October 2011.
Judge Stephen Kramer QC said students habitually “drink to excess” during such occasions, and that Turner had no memory of his furtive sex attack.
His victim - who was not a student - woke to find Turner groping her, the court heard, having removed her underpants. She was left profoundly “upset” by her ordeal, although Turner had “desisted” when she protested.
Turner said he was unused to alcohol and had drunk so much he was still intoxicated the following morning.
His actions were “totally out of character”, said the judge, and he was “ashamed, upset and appalled at what he had done”. He has now given up drink altogether.
The 20-year-old’s case reached London’s Appeal Court as he challenged his sentence.
Judge Kramer, sitting with Lord Justice Aikens and Mr Justice Globe, said his offence clearly “crossed the custody threshold”.
But he told the court: “By this act, he has thrown away a promising start to his career”.
As an exceptional act of mercy, the judge said the court was prepared to suspend the seven-month detention term, enabling Turner’s immediate release.