A BARBECUE guest in Newton Abbot has been cleared of groping a woman who got so drunk that she had to be put to bed.

Simon Hesse was accused of climbing into bed with the woman in the early hours of the morning and touching her between her legs.

He was found not guilty after telling a jury at Exeter Crown Court that she had woken up, mistaken him for her boyfriend, and started kissing him. He denied touching her private parts.

Hesse was found guilty of a much less serious sexual assault which related to a second incident at around 6 am when he took her a cup of tea and kissed her.

They had both been guests at a party at a house near the centre of Newton Abbot on July 7, 2019, but the woman had been drinking with friends before she arrived.

The party was at her boyfriend’s house and he put her to bed but was then called away and left the house for the rest of the night.

She alleged that she woke up at about 3am to find Hesse assaulting her sexually and had to roll out of bed to escape him. 

Hesse, aged 35, of Cummings Cross, Liverton, denied this and was found not guilty of assault by penetration. He was convicted of sexual assault in relation to the later kissing and will be sentenced later.

During a trial last week, Mr Lee Bremridge, prosecuting, said Hesse had been expected to sleep on a sofa or camp bed downstairs after the barbecue, but instead got into bed with the woman.

He said she woke up, rolled out of bed, switched on the light and raised the alarm after realising it was Hesse and not her boyfriend.

He went downstairs and she went back to sleep but was awoken again at about 6 am, when he kissed her again.

She told the jury that she was confused about what had happened and only went to the police later in the day after talking to her sister.

Hesse denied both assaults and said he had got into bed because he wanted to sleep but that the woman had mistaken him for her boyfriend. He said any kissing was consensual.