AN ex-soldier who groped a stranger after getting drunk and a closing time party has been sent on a sex offenders’ course.

Keiran Bunce was invited back to a house in Minehead after meeting a group of people in a pub and ended up crashing out on a sofa.

He woke up in the middle of the night and went into a bedroom where one of the women who had been at the party was sleeping.

Bunce believed she was alone but in fact she was sleeping top-to-toe with a male friend. The woman woke up to find Bunce touching her breast and trying to put his hand between her legs.

She told him to stop and the friend who was in bed with her confronted Bunce, who was ordered to leave after other members of the group were woken up by the commotion.

Bunce, aged 26, of Tregonwell Road, Minehead, denied sexual assault but was found guilty by a jury at Taunton Crown Court.

He was ordered to attend a sex offenders’ treatment course as part of a three year community order by Judge David Evans, sitting at Exeter Crown Court.

Somerset County Gazette:

He told him:”Everyone at the flat was affected by alcohol and it is clear you sought out the victim after everybody had gone to bed and you had been mulling things over on the sofa downstairs.

“It may be that alcohol had worked on your mind and you made the unwise decision to go upstairs and try to find her. I have no doubt that is what you were doing. Your story about looking for a packet of cigarettes was threadbare.

“She was asleep and in drink and you thought you would take advantage of her vulnerability. You sexually assaulted her; you shocked and outraged her.

“She initially did not want to make a complaint but saw the wisdom in advice from her mother that people like you always should be called out when they behave like this. The jury saw the truth of the matter.

“I have not doubt that ordinarily you are a decent man, who works hard and provided exemplary service for nearly six years in the armed forces.

“It seems that after your discharge you somewhat lacked a sense of direction. It is clear you were drinking too much. Given the attitudes you have expressed, you are a prime candidate for a sex offenders’ programme.”

During the trial the jury heard how Bunce had been at a pub in Minehead on November 4, 2016 and tagged on with a group who were going back to a flat in the town.

Everyone was drinking at the party, at which Bunce became attracted to the woman, without her showing any signs of reciprocation.

He went into her room in the early hours while under the mistake belief she was sleeping alone. He later claimed he was looking for cigarettes.

Miss Julia Bradbury, defending, said the offence happened at a difficult time in Bunce’s life when he was struggling to come to terms with civilian life after six years in the forces.

He has settled down in the 15 months since and is hoping to resume work at a supermarket warehouse where he was previously employed.

He still denies touching the woman’s breast, but now accepts he was wrong to go into her room uninvited in the early hours of the morning.