Backpacker wakes in fright to drunk fondling her

A FRENCH backpacker woke to find a drunken stranger touching her intimately as she slept in a hostel room with her fiance, Gympie Magistrates Court was told yesterday.

The woman initially thought it was her fiance fondling her, but was distressed to wake and find it was someone she had never met, the court heard.

People have a right to feel safe in their homes, including temporary homes at hostels, Gympie Magistrate Maxine Baldwin said yesterday.

Jailing Cooloola Cove man Ryan James Hammersley, she said Hammersley had only escaped a sex charge because his victim had returned to France without leaving a statement with police.

Prosecutor Sgt Michael Phillips told the court the woman woke on March 17, and was distressed to find Hammersley fondling her breasts and rubbing her genital area.

Her fiance was equally unimpressed and CCTV images showed him punching Hammersley in the face several times, the court heard.

This however, did not discourage Hammersley, whose legal representative said he had been extremely drunk and was looking for a place to pass out.

Hammersley, 30, of Golden Hind Avenue, pleaded guilty to five counts of trespassing in the hostel, as he entered one room after another, attempting to climb into bed with a woman in one.

In all cases, he left when told to do so.

"People should be able to feel safe in their rooms," Mrs Baldwin said. "You totally violated their privacy."

She said some victims might lose all ability to feel secure and may not be able to continue with their holiday, "because suddenly they feel very vulnerable".

"To enter the sanctity of the home or the home for a night is something I consider to be very serious," she said.

Mrs Baldwin said her daughters sometimes stayed in backpacker hostels "and I don't want some idiot coming in and groping them".

Told that Hammersley had serious alcohol issues, Mrs Baldwin noted extensive previous offences and attempts by the courts to lean towards rehabilitation.

But that time was over, she said. "I want people to know that if they behave (like) this they will lose the right to live among us.

"Jail is not there to help people. It is only a deterrent and punishment (but) you wasted the opportunities for rehabilitation."

She jailed him for six months, with two months to be served and the rest suspended for two years.

Topics:  backpacker court crime gympie

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