Man given suspended sentence for sexual assault and voyeurism after taking pictures of sleeping woman

York Crown Court.

A man who took photos of a naked woman while she was sleeping has been spared jail.

Ross Hutchinson, 40, from Newsham, lifted up the victim’s clothes to take photographs of her body, York Crown Court heard.

“He moved her while (she was) asleep to take the photographs and better show her naked body,” said prosecutor Mike Greenhalgh.

The woman ultimately found out about the explicit images but Hutchinson, expecting her to make a complaint to police, handed himself in and told officers what he had done.

In October 2020, police seized several electronic devices from his home including a laptop on which he had stored the graphic images in a hidden album of photo files, one of which was titled “Naughty”.

Mr Greenhalgh said there were hundreds of images of naked women stored in the files, including some featuring the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Among those were images of the sleeping victim whose top had been lifted to expose her body.

Hutchinson, who was not in a relationship with the victim, was charged with voyeurism, sexual assault and observing a person doing a private act for the purpose of sexual gratification.

He admitted all three offences and appeared for sentence today.

In a statement read out by the prosecution, the victim said “I could have been sick” when she realised what the defendant had done, adding she felt “extremely violated”.

“I was horrified,” she said. “I immediately burst into tears.”

The woman said her mental health had “severely” deteriorated to the extent that she had consulted her doctor and she was still having recurring nightmares about what happened.

“I feel like I’ve gone down a very dark hole,” she added.

Kevin Blount, Hutchinson’s solicitor advocate, said that at the time of the offences his client had a drug problem and was “somewhat addicted to pornography”.

He said that Hutchinson, of Low Lane, was now a full-time carer for his seriously ill mother.

Judge Simon Hickey said Hutchinson’s “gross” offences were nonetheless “peculiar” and not that of “the normal sexual predator or offender”.

“You sexually assaulted the victim not in the normal way but in order to move her clothing and perhaps to position her in order to take these intimate photographs,” added Mr Hickey.

He said, however, that he could spare Hutchinson prison because he was effectively a man of good character, had not committed any offences since and was a carer for his mother.

The 20-month jail sentence was suspended for two years, during which time Hutchinson will have to complete a sex-offending group work programme of up to 43 days, along with a 20-day rehabilitation programme and a six-month drug-rehabilitation course.

He was also ordered to sign on the sex offenders’ register for ten years and issued with a ten-year restraining order for the protection of the victim.