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15 August 2017, 13:39
A former professional footballer who got into the bed of a stranger and touched her bottom after an eight hour drinking binge has avoided a jail sentence for sexual assault.
Ex-Manchester City and Glasgow Celtic player Chris Killen, 35, was in a "stupefied state" from alcohol when he went through the unlocked patio doors of a house where a group of women were sleeping after a party.
Killen, a father of two, went into a bedroom and got under the covers next to a woman who was sleeping alongside her friend and another woman in the room.
His victim, who had been drinking, suddenly became aware of a man next to her in bed and "froze" then felt a hand on her bottom over her knickers, Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester heard.
She cried out to her sleeping friend who used her phone to light up Killen, who removed his hand and sat up in bed amid demands to know who he was and what he was doing there.
Gary Woodall, prosecuting, told the court Killen said his name was "John" and he had arrived at the house with "two girls" then quickly left the room and the house in Bury, Greater Manchester, which was rented out by a property firm he is involved in.
New Zealand-born Killen returned moments later to ask for his shoes back, the court heard.
He represented his country in the 2010 World Cup after playing for Middlesbrough and Celtic and starting his career with Manchester City as a trainee.
His career also included stints at Hibernian, Norwich, Oldham Athletic, Port Vale and Wrexham.
The defendant, of London Road, Adlington, near Macclesfield, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to an offence of sexual assault in the early morning of September 17, 2016.
He had been out with a friend in Manchester, drinking for eight hours and visiting nightclubs and a lap-dancing bar before getting a taxi to the property.
After his arrest he offered to go around with flowers, wine and chocolates to apologise, but the court heard his victim, whose age was not given in court, felt "violated and vulnerable" after waking to find a strange man in her bed.
In a victim impact statement she told the court: "I felt and still feel uneasy on my own. I struggle to sleep. What happened keeps going through my mind. I have not really been myself since it happened."
Lisa Judge, mitigating, said the defendant's wife stood by him and he had "positive qualities" including running his own business and doing charity work.
She added: "He's acknowledged in the cold light of day when sober the effects this would have.
"The apology is a full and frank one."
Judge Maurice Greene said after "long, hard consideration" he would pass a 12 month jail sentence but the "unusual circumstances" of the case meant he could suspend it for 18 months and order Killen to do 20 hours rehabilitation activity and 200 hours community service.
Passing sentence he said: "This woman was particularly vulnerable. She was drunk and asleep at the time this incident happened.
"She was in this house where she could expect to feel safe in the room in which she was sleeping."
He ordered the defendant to sign the Sex Offenders Register for the next 10 years.