A HAMPSHIRE businessman who sexually assaulted a drunken teenager has been spared an immediate jail term.

Clive Wilkes, who runs his own building firm, touched the girl's thigh, kissed her legs and 'interfered' with her dress.

Southampton Crown Court heard that Wilkes and his 17-year-old victim had both been drinking.

Tim Moores, prosecuting, said the defendant eventually left her alone after she complained of feeling unwell and pretended to be sick.

Daily Echo: Clive WilkesClive Wilkes

Reading extracts from her personal impact statement Mr Moores said the girl had not worn a dress since the incident. She had also experienced difficulty eating and sleeping.

Wilkes, 46, of Ratcliffe Road, Dibden Purlieu, had previously pleaded guilty to sexual assault. He had no previous convictions.

Damian Hayes, mitigating, said his client was mourning the death of a close friend when he committed the offence.

"He is a decent, hard-working man who acted out of character and bitterly regrets what happened," said Mr Hayes.

"He found the sudden death of his friend very hard to deal with. That led to a decline in his mental health and a corresponding increase in his consumption of alcohol."

Judge Gary Burrell QC said Wilkes's victim was drunk and vulnerable.

Daily Echo:

He told the defendant: "You tried to take advantage of her sexually. It was absolutely shameful behaviour and you are very lucky your marriage has remained intact.

"The impact on the girl has been significant. What on earth were you thinking of?"

But Judge Burrell added: "I accept this was a one-off and that you yourself were in drink, which is no excuse."

Wilkes was handed a eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. He was also told to complete 180 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Burrell told him: "You are lucky your family has remained supportive of you. Many would not."