Gazza on trial for sexual assault after kissing woman to give her 'confidence boost'

14 October 2019, 16:06

Paul Gascoigne allegedly kissed the woman on a train from York to Newcastle
Paul Gascoigne allegedly kissed the woman on a train from York to Newcastle. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Former footballer Paul Gascoigne is on trial for sexual assault following an incident on a train in which he allegedly planted a "wet and soppy" kiss on a woman's lips.

The woman told jurors at Teesside Crown Court the "drunken" kiss from the former Newcastle United, Everton, Rangers, Spurs and Middlesbrough player was "completely out of the blue."

Gascoigne told other passengers who challenged his "unacceptable sexual behaviour" on the train from York to Newcastle in August 2018 that he kissed the alleged victim in order to boost her confidence, the court heard.

The 52-year-old former England footballer denies a single count of sexual assault.

Jury members were told to put any preconceived ideas of the sportsman to one side and were asked whether they were employed by or knew him from any of his previous clubs.

When asked about Gascoigne's demeanour, the woman, who was giving evidence from behind a screen as she cannot be identified, said: "He certainly seemed drunk, intoxicated."

Gascoigne is on trial at Teesside Crown Court
Gascoigne is on trial at Teesside Crown Court. Picture: PA

She told the court she did not recognise who he was at the time of the incident but noticed he was being noisy, had food around his mouth and there were "lots of cans on the floor."

The woman told jurors she tried blocking off the noise coming from Gascoigne behind her by putting on her headphones.

She said: "Midway through the journey he asked me if I was a palm reader. I said no and tried to keep looking forward."

He later attempted to sit on her lap moments before the alleged assault, she added.

"He kept saying sorry. I said 'It's fine'. I was just looking out of the window. He said sorry a second time, and then tapped my arm.

"I turned around to face him and he grabbed my face and kissed me full on the lips, and I was taken aback because it was just completely out of the blue."

The prosecution added: "He put his hands on her cheeks and kissed her forcibly and sloppily on the lips."

William Mousley QC, prosecuting, said: "This case concerns a brief but unpleasant assault with sexual overtones on a train by a drunken male stranger in his 50s."

Gascoigne has denied the charge and said he kissed the woman to boost her confidence
Gascoigne has denied the charge and said he kissed the woman to boost her confidence. Picture: PA

Once off the train, the woman called the police and only worked out Gascoigne's identity a week later upon seeing the story on Sky News, she told jury members.

Police officers tracked down the former footballer on the night of the incident as he stayed in a hotel in Jesmond, Newcastle.

He told officers on the phone he knew why they had got in touch with him, saying, in his words, he had "kissed a fat lass," Mr Mousley said.

Gascoigne was questioned the next morning and showed no remorse and claimed the woman had been abused by someone else about her build "and he had given her a peck on the lips to reassure her as he felt sorry for her," Mousley added.

Michelle Heeley QC, defending Gascoigne, cross-examined the woman's evidence and asked whether she heard anyone call him "Gazza" or if other passengers asked, "why would you want a photo with that fat cow?" both of which she denied hearing.

The woman also did not "recall" the former England footballer coming over to comfort her and saying, "do not worry, you're beautiful."

Asked by the defence how long the kiss lasted, she said between three and five seconds which made her "completely freeze."