A FORMER estate director at a Ryedale stately home subjected two women to drunken sexual assaults in “an abuse of power”.

Josh Douglas George Feakins, 45, of Greenacres, Hunton, Bedale, was convicted of two counts of sexual assault - at Castle Howard and in a nearby village - during a three-day trial in York. Feakins was sentenced at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Sarah Tyrer, prosecuting, described the incidents, which happened at a party in the summer of 2017, to the court using statements from the victims.

Ms Tyrer said the first victim was confronted by Feakins in the stately home’s Grecian room.

“He asked her to sit next to him because he wanted a chat,” she said.

“Then he started to conduct himself in an improper manner. She immediately felt uncomfortable.”

Ms Tyrer said Feakins began to rub the woman’s leg from her knee to her thigh, as if he was trying to get his hand under her dress.

She said: “She was totally shocked by this behaviour and immediately told him to stop and told him he would regret it in the morning.”

The court was told the woman began to make her way out, but Feakins “roughly” pushed her against a wall.

“He forcefully held her arm. He managed to get hold of her hair. She said he was trying to force his tongue into her mouth.”

The woman managed to push him away but sustained bruising to her arm and a split lip.

The court heard the party ended at 9.30pm and Feakins and his wife went back to their nearby home with another couple.

Ms Tyrer said the four sat in the kitchen and had another drink, with the second victim sat next to Feakins.

“He started to throw bits of paper down her V-necked top,” Ms Tyrer said. “Then he pulled it down and dropped a lighter down the top.”

Feeling “violated”, the woman decided to move across the table, but as she was squeezing between the table and the wall, Feakins put his hand between her legs.

“I was lifted off the ground with the force of it,” the victim said in her statement. “This was a deliberate act.”

The victim left the house and reported the incident.

Feakins, who said he had no recollection of the incidents, was suspended from work the following day.

Defence lawyer Kevin Blount said: “Since his arrest, which is now getting towards two years ago, Mr Feakins has not drunk in a social setting - and he has no intention of doing so as he acknowledges that the amount he had to drink led to him being before the courts.

“It’s clear that alcohol was what led him to losing his good character. This has had huge impacts on himself and his family.”

He added that there was no risk of future re-offending.

Sentencing Feakins, magistrate Ian Nicholson said: “These were serious incidents. We see this as an abuse of power. You’d taken a substantial amount of alcohol. There was a violent component to both incidents and a level of aggression.”

He sentenced Feakins to 240 hours unpaid work and up to 25 rehabilitation days. He also has a restraining order meaning he cannot approach the victims for five years. He was also ordered to pay £1,150 prosecution costs, a surcharge of £85, and £500 compensation for each victim, totalling £2,235.

After the court case, a spokesman for Castle Howard said: “Mr Feakins was seconded by his employer Savills to the Castle Howard Estate as estate director. Allegations were made against Mr Feakins about his conduct after an event in 2017. As a result he was not permitted to continue his secondment at the estate any longer.”

A spokesman for Savills said: “Following allegations made against employee Mr Feakins about his conduct at an event on the Castle Howard Estate in 2017 we undertook our own full investigation. We confirm he is no longer employed by the company. Also at all times we have liaised closely with the estate and the authorities. We take matters involving our employees very seriously and are committed to maintaining the highest standards of professional and personal conduct at all times.”