Former footballer denies sexually assaulting woman, says he kissed her to boost her esteem

By Mirror | Thursday, Oct 17th 2019 at 16:02
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Former footballer Paul Gascoigne has been cleared by a jury at Teesside Crown Court of sexual assault after he kissed a woman on a train, but the jury is still considering an alternative charge of assault by beating.

The 52-year-old told jurors he had no sexual intention when he planted the sloppy kiss on the stranger, whom he said had been abused by another passenger.

Gascoigne, who denied a single charge of sexual assault, told Teesside Crown Court that he kissed the woman on the York to Newcastle train in August 2018 to boost her confidence after he claimed he heard someone call her fat.

Gascoigne wept in the dock as he was cleared of sexual assault.

Judge Peter Armstrong told the jury he will now accept a majority verdict on the lesser, alternative count that they are still considering.

Teesside Crown Court heard the complainant was on a York to Newcastle train in August 2018 when Gascoigne, who was loud and swearing, drunkenly sat down next to her, tapped her on the arm, grabbed her by the cheeks and planted a sloppy kiss on her lips.

In her closing speech to the jury Michelle Heeley QC, defending, told jurors the former footballer kissed a woman who was not expecting it and did not like it, but that did not make him a sex offender.

She said the kiss lasted two or three seconds, was on a packed train, and was not preceded by any "lecherous comment", touching or groping.

She said it might have been "misplaced", but it was not sexual.

In his closing speech, prosecutor William Mousley QC said Gascoigne had repeatedly lied about what happened, claiming that someone had abused the woman.

He said: "There's an obvious reason as to why he lied and that's because he knows he is guilty of sexual assault but wants to put up a smokescreen, cause a diversion, suggest it was not as it so obviously was."

After she was kissed, the woman, who cannot be named, was shocked and a fellow passenger challenged Gascoigne, saying: "What you have just done is sexual abuse."

Police later traced Gascoigne to a hotel in Jesmond, Newcastle, and when an officer spoke to him on the phone, prior to arrest, the footballer said: "I know what it's about, I kissed a fat lass."

When he gave evidence, Gascoigne said he was trying to reassure his alleged victim after he claimed to have overheard someone say of her: "You don't want a photo with her, she's fat and ugly."

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