March 2021

Little Hulton man committed sex attack on woman who was asleep in her own bed

A 30-year-old man has been jailed after entering a woman’s bedroom in her own flat and committing a sex attack on her while she was asleep.

Manchester Crown Court heard that Joseph Howell, of Baron Fold Crescent, Little Hulton, was out drinking with pals on February 6, 2018, when he met the victim and her friends.

Howell talked to the victim but there was “nothing flirtatious” said or anything else which suggested she was “sexually interested” in him, Recorder Paul Reid said.

The victim and her friend, who was staying with her, invited Howell and three of his friends back to her flat and the defendant took a crate of Budweiser with him.

Howell said he had drunk “at least seven to eight pints of cider” and had taken three keys of cocaine.

The group carried on drinking but the victim – who said she had not had much to drink – and her friend went to bed, with the men asked to leave the flat when they finished drinking.

The noise of the door being shut was heard and it was assumed the four friends had left, but Howell decided to stay.

Recorder Reid said the next thing the victim remembers is waking up around 3.30am to find someone in bed next to her.

She woke up because he was “hurting” her, the court was told.

The victim had her back to Howell and she did not realise who was in bed with her.

She remembers he tried to have sex with her but was unable to when she moved and he stopped.

Recorder Reid said: “When she woke up she froze, still unaware of who was in bed with her.

“She then tried to wake up her friend who was in bed.”

The woman, who was being sexually assaulted with Howell also trying to rape her, managed to wake up her friend, who confronted Howell.

The victim got out of bed and left the room and went outside to her car. In her car, the victim text her friend and others about what happened.

Later on, at around midday, after he had left the flat, Howell sent her a text message trying to convince her that they were both drunk and they had made a “dark mistake”.

He was arrested later that day but said to police that everything which had happened was consensual.

The case went to a trial in January this year where Howell told the jury he had sex with the victim for 30 seconds, but Recorder Reid suspects he said this to persuade jurors that it was consensual.

However, he was found guilty of two of four counts, assault by penetration and attempted rape, unanimously.

Prosecuting, Darren Preston read a victim impact statement from the woman.

The statement said: “I was at my home address thinking I was safe in bed asleep when I was attacked by Howell.

“Since that day my life has been in turmoil. The attack has been on my mind every day, it’s affected my sleep.

“It’s been going on for three years. Each time leading up to the trial date, I would have nightmares about what happened.

“My anxiety levels have gone through the roof, I was placed on medication to try to help.

“I’m wary of people I don’t know, for example, I would never go to a party on a whim. I don’t trust people as much as I used to which has had a massive impact on my personal life.

“In this times of social media I have been called names, told I was attention seeking.

“A few of Howell’s friends have approached me and threatened me and convinced me to move out of the area for 12 months.

“On Monday, January 11, 2021, I finally had justice. It gave me a massive sense of relief and justification after all my suffering for the past nearly three years.

“I want to get on with my life now and be happy, with a guilty verdict I hope I can do this and have some level of closure.”

She added that she hopes Howell can reflect on what he did to her in her own home “when she should have been safe”.

Howell had not committed offences of a sexual nature before but he was convicted of drink driving in June 2018 while he was under police investigation, which Recorder Reid says shows he has not learned how to control his drinking.

Recorder Reid jailed Howell for seven years.