A serving police officer behaved like "a drunken idiot" when he sexually assaulted three of his colleagues at a Chester Christmas party.

Joseph Robinson, 28, of Hafod Y Wern, Gwernymynydd, pleaded guilty at Chester Crown Court on Thursday, February 8 to three charges of sexual assault.

Recorder Mark Cooper said the defendant came "perilously close" to an immediate custodial term, handing him a 12-month suspended sentence.

Prosecuting, Philip Clemo said Robinson had been a serving officer with North Wales Police at the time of the offences on December 15, 2022, and was off duty for the works Christmas party held at Chester Racecourse, where there was a three-course meal and a dancefloor.

One of the three female victims – none of whom can be named – saw Robinson that night and noted he was "clearly very drunk" and being "a bit annoying".

Robinson got her into a headlock and said she was "ace" and had a "nice a**e". A witness got in between the two so Robinson would walk away.

As the woman got ready to leave at about 11.30pm that night, she felt a hand go up her dress and grab her left bum cheek. She turned around and Robinson pouted his lips and rolled his eyes "in a suggestive manner", before repeating moving his hand up for a second skin-on-skin contact sexual assault.

The woman turned around and told him to "f*** off".

At a different part of the night, a second woman overheard Robinson say about her: "I would s**g her", and noticed he was on his own.

The woman went with a friend to have a photo taken in front of fairy lights when Robinson appeared to join them. at first, the woman thought it was a 'photobomb', but noted Robinson was "extremely drunk".

Robinson put his arm around her waist and then squeezed her bottom over her clothing.

Having done so, Robinson then moved his fingers towards her private parts, leading the woman to say "no" and push him away.

Robinson seemed "dismissive" and lifted up his shirt, showing his stomach. He then began pulling on the victim's outfit which, if he had continued to do so, would have exposed her breasts. The woman told Robinson to "f*** off" and felt upset by the incident.

The third woman recalled Robinson had come over and said she was "the most beautiful person" in that room and kissed her on the forehead, which she found unusual as she did not know him. Later, on the dancefloor, Robinson grabbed her bottom.

Robinson was later interviewed twice by police and he remained silent both times.

Defending, Rosalind Scott Bell said while it was accepted the offences were committed in drink, they were not malicious, and were done in a room full of police officers, so it was bound to result in disciplinary action, and led to the loss of a job he loved – a "heavy price".

Nine character references had been submitted which portrayed "a wholly different side to the drunken idiot" from that night, speaking of a hard-working colleague who was always first to assist on a call-out, with "exemplary conduct" and "high integrity".

It had been "a remarkable fall from grace", and Robinson had not touched alcohol since that night.

The court heard he was "utterly ashamed and embarrassed", and wished to apologise to North Wales Police, in particular to the women he touched that night, "horrified by the distress" he had caused.

The judge said Robinson had gone on a "rampage" around the room that night, targeting several women.

The defendant was handed a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, during which time he must complete up to 35 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement and the Horizon sex offender treatment programme. He must pay £720 court costs and a surcharge.

In addition, he is subject to the sex offender notification requirements for 10 years.

Robinson denied four other counts of sexual assault on four other women from the same night, and the court was directed that those counts would lie on file.