A young Kirkby mum has told of the “horrifying” moment she caught a Best Western manager “leering at her” through her hotel window when she was alone on a business trip.
Clare Day, 27, a sales representative, was naked in the en-suite of her ground floor room when she saw the man’s face ‘pressed against the glass’ at Walworth Castle in Darlington on October 26.
Recognising him as the manager who’d checked her in, sales representative Clare “screamed” - and claims reception staff advised her to lock her door and report the incident in the morning.
The married mum-of-two, who is a Best Western “platinum member” and uses the chain weekly for work, said: “I saw his face through the reflection of the bathroom mirror, it was like something out of a horror film.
“I felt totally violated and sick to my stomach. It felt like he targeted me knowing I was alone.”
The manager in question - Clare was not told his name - was allegedly sacked from the hotel after the incident was caught on CCTV and the mum says she was offered a free night’s stay as compensation.
He was also arrested on suspicion of voyeurism but released with a caution.
Clare – who still uses Best Western for work – tells how the ordeal left her so shaken her husband Nick, 31, took two weeks off work because she was afraid to be alone.
Clare added: “I’m furious he has been let off scot-free while I am still suffering the effects of his actions.”
Clare has used Best Western hotels for business for two years but this was her first stay at three-star Walworth Castle.
Initially she was given a ground floor room by the manager - who she describes as “tall and slim with brown hair” - but a power cut meant she was moved to the first floor.
That evening she ate alone in the hotel restaurant and says the manager attempted to engage her in conversation.
She said: “I was abrupt as I was there on business and just wanted to go to bed, which I then did.”
At 10pm Clare complained of the noise and requested a move to her original room.
Clare tells how she undressed and went to the bathroom, leaving the door between rooms open.
She said: “I glanced in the mirror and my stomach lurched.
“In the reflection I saw a face pressed so closely against the window of my bedroom it looked like he was in the room with me. I was naked and my first thought was that he’d come to attack me.
“It was horrific, like something from a horror film. I screamed and covered myself.
“I recognised him straight away as the hotel manager who’d checked me in.
“It felt like he was leering for minutes but it can only have been a second or two before his face disappeared.”
“Shaken” Clare called her husband and boss and, when neither answered, called reception desk.
She claims she was advised to stay in the room until tomorrow and report the incident then.
Clare said: “I was still in shock and terrified this man would find me. He knew I was alone and where I was staying as he’d checked me in.
“I felt so vulnerable, not to mention objectified. I pushed a wardrobe against the door to block it, but I still didn’t sleep all night.”
The following morning she reported the incident to a staff member who promised to check the hotel’s CCTV.
Clare tells how manager Michael Robinson was “extremely helpful” in the weeks that followed and allegedly located the incident on CCTV and sacked him.
The footage was also handed to Durham police and he was arrested on suspicion of voyeurism but released with a caution because it was a “first-time offence”.
Since the ordeal, Clare has struggled to sleep and admits to being “knocked” by what happened.
She said: “I’ve been paranoid he would come after me, especially after he was sacked.
“When I stay in a Best Western for work now I order room service rather than go to dinner alone.
“I want to expose what happened to make it clear that this is a sick and unacceptable abuse of power and urge any other victims of a similar crime to come forward.”
Michael Robinson, manager at Walworth Castle, said: “Unfortunately it is not our policy to comment on individuals or individual matters in relation to Walworth castle.”
A Durham police spokesperson said: “A man in his thirties was questioned by police on suspicion of voyeurism and accepted a caution.”