A DRUNK widower who repeatedly molested a 17-year-old girl while she lay pretending to be asleep, frozen with terror, has been jailed for four years and eight months after he admitted three charges of sexual assault.

Prosecutor Ian Fenny told Swindon Crown Court that John Goble, 46, had begun by texting his victim in late 2018.

The texts became more sexually explicit, and the girl eventually reported them to her friends and family.

In May 2019 the teenager was at Goble’s home in Castle View, Westbury, and woke in the early hours to find him molesting her.

Mr Fenny said: “The victim describes that made her want to cry. She didn’t know what to do and froze, pretending to be asleep.”

Goble returned twice to sexually assault the girl, later claiming he thought she was consenting to his sick advances.

“The defendant had his face close to her. She could feel the stubble and smell the beer and tobacco on his breath,” Mr Fenny said.

The girl texted her boyfriend and her mother after Goble had gone. Her boyfriend ran to the house to find the teenager hysterical in the garden. Her parents also arrived, later saying Goble had appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.

The dad-of-two was arrested and taken to Melksham custody centre, where he said: “It’s not rape, is it?” He later said he’d misunderstood what he had been arrested on suspicion of having done.

He denied the allegations. Interviewed six months later, after forensic scientists revealed the victim’s DNA on Goble’s fingers, he answered no comment to all questions.

Goble pleaded guilty last month to three charges of sexual assault by penetration.

Defending, Mark Worsley said his client was genuinely remorseful. He had lost his wife to cancer in 2015 and brought up his two children alone while still working full-time.

He had turned down grief counselling in the wake of his partner’s death and, last year, was struggling with alcohol abuse.

His barrister linked his “bizarre behaviour”, which it was said was out of character, to his difficulties coping with the loss of his wife.

Mr Worsley said of his client: “He has lost everything. He initially lost his wife in 2015. He’s now lost his daughters and he’s lost his good name.”

There had been a delay of around a year in the charges being brought, he added.

Judge Robert Pawson sentenced Goble to four years and eight months’ imprisonment. He must abide by a sexual harm prevention order indefinitely and will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.