No5 Queen’s Counsel defends ex-England star cleared of sexual assault

Thu, 17 Oct 2019

Queen’s Counsel at No5 Barristers’ Chambers led the defence of former footballer Paul Gascoigne who has been cleared of sexual assault.

Michelle Heeley QC acted for the ex-England player who had denied sexual assault by touching.

Mr Gascoigne, 52, who lives in Leicester, had been accused of kissing a woman on the lips while drunk on a train travelling from York to Newcastle in August 2018.

The jury delivered its verdict after just a few hours of deliberations. Mr Gascoigne was also cleared of the less serious charge of assault by beating.

Judge Peter Armstrong told the former Newcastle United player that he was free to go.

The jury heard that the complainant was left ‘shocked and upset’ but Mr Gascoigne told the court that he gave the woman a "peck on the lips" to "boost her confidence" after abusive comments had been made about her weight.

He had told the court that he automatically protects people when they are called fat, because he was called overweight during his football career.

Michelle Heeley QC told the court there had been no sexual intention. She said: "In his own naive way, he thought he was making a larger woman have more body confidence. It's a clumsy way to go about building someone's confidence, but it was not sexual."

She also told the court that although the woman had not expected a kiss and did not like it, it did not make him a sex offender.

She said the kiss was not preceded by any “lecherous comment", touching or groping. Miss Heeley added: “You cannot be sure Mr Gascoigne had a sexual intent.

"He has been consistent throughout, he didn't kiss (the complainant) for any other reason in his mind than to reassure her that she was not fat or ugly."

During the trial, character references were also given by former boxer Ricky Hatton, Mr Gascoigne’s alcohol therapist Jane Couch, and his former agent Mel Stein.

Photos were also shown to the jury of Mr Gascoigne kissing and being kissed by famous footballers and fans, including a picture of him kissing Diana, Princess of Wales.

The ex-England star wept in the dock and thanked the jury after the verdict was given. He also thanked his dentist.

It had been claimed that Mr Gascoigne was drunk on the train. However, his defence argued that he was slurring his words because he was not wearing his bridge containing false teeth.

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