A 43-YEAR-old man has been spared jail after sexually touching a woman after she fell asleep.

Colin Horton, of Buttermere Crescent, Orford appeared in Liverpool Crown Court on Monday, after a night of drinking and watching television on April 16 lead to him sexually assaulting a woman as she lay sleeping.

Judge David Aubrey, passing a 12-month suspended sentence, told Horton: “You had been drinking, as had she, and she fell asleep.

“She awoke to discover that you were sexually assaulting her by touching her.

“She froze. She immediately punched you.

“To your credit you immediately recognised your wrong-doing and apologised to her.”

Chris Taylor, prosecuting, told the court how Horton said: “I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me, I’m sorry.”

There was no initial report to police but when the woman told others about what had happened, she came forward.

In a victim personal statement read in court, the woman said she had trouble concentrating at work as a result of the incident but is now relieved it is over.

The statement continued: "It created anxiety in social situations and bouts of uncontrollable crying.

"I now lash out at the smallest things."

Anna Pope, representing Horton, said he pleaded guilty to the offence and deeply regrets what took place.

He has no previous convictions and has fully co-operated with the probation service.

Horton was handed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years.

He must also undergo a specialised programme and complete 20 rehabilitation activity days.

Judge Aubrey added: “If you commit any offence or breach this order you will be brought back to this court and it’s likely that you will have to serve the sentence this court has imposed on you.”