A JOHNSTONE man has been placed on the Sex Offenders Register after he groped a reveller at his neighbours’ flat-warming party.

Alexander Christopher Edward Orchard, of South William Street, forced himself on the man, who can’t be named for legal reasons, while the victim slept in a bedroom at the flat.

Orchard, 32, and his boyfriend had been invited to the flat-warming of their new neighbours in August this year.

Once there, he went on to sexually assault one of the partygoers – and faced claims he had also sexually assaulted another.

But, yesterday, he told his Paisley Sheriff Court trial that he feared the man may have been choking on vomit in his sleep.

Orchard said he had touched the man’s genitals and shaken him to make sure he wasn’t dead, as a friend of his had suffered that sad fate.

Court papers claimed Orchard touched him “on the body sexually” at his neighbour’s home and he was also said to have performed a sex act on his second alleged victim on the same occasion.

Orchard, who works as a customer experience manager for an electronics company, admitted he had gone into the room the first man was sleeping in and touched his private parts but claimed it was an innocent act.

He said: “I heard this strange sort of gargling, snoring sound. I wanted to make sure he was okay.

“I had a school friend who, in his last year of university, choked on his own vomit and died.

“It was the fact he was making this strange noise from his throat. I wanted to check he was okay and breathing properly.
“I touched his thigh and shook it, on top of the blanket. I shook it and he woke up.”

Orchard said he was “completely dumbfounded” when the allegation of sexual assault was made.

Sheriff Hugh McGinty convicted him over the sexual assault of the first man, while finding the charge of sexually assaulting the second man not proven.

As he did so, the judge told Orchard: “I don’t feel your explanation is plausible.”

He added: “I feel, if you were concerned about the fact he might be choking on vomit, the logical and easiest thing to do would be to simply look in his mouth and sit him up.”

Sheriff McGinty called for background reports ahead of sentencing and adjourned the case until next month for that to be done.

Orchard could be jailed for up to a year when he returns to the dock to learn his fate.

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