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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Cumbrian solicitor who groped young woman must pay £3,500

A solicitor who groped the young woman sitting next to him on a long-distance bus through Cumbria has been put on the sex offenders’ register for five years.

Resigned: Hugh Wotherspoon has quit his job and may lose his professional status

At Carlisle Crown Court Hugh Robert Wotherspoon, 54-year-old married father of two teenaged children, was also put under three years probation supervision, ordered to attend a sexual behaviour programme and pay £2,500.

He was also told to pay £1,000 compensation to his victim.

Wotherspoon was arrested at Tebay Services on the M6 last August after the German-born woman told the driver he had been repeatedly fondling her thigh on the journey from Edinburgh.

Earlier this month he was found guilty of assaulting the woman by touching her in a sexual manner against her will.

Wotherspoon, of Dalmeny Road, Carshalton, Surrey, had admitted “trying it on” with the woman, but he insisted he was not guilty of any criminal offence because he believed she was enjoying the contact as much as he was.

In court yesterday his barrister Madeleine Wolfe said Wotherspoon admitted being “an unconventional character”.

But she added: “That does not make him any more dangerous than somebody more straightforward.”

She said Wotherspoon had resigned from his highly-paid job following his conviction. He was also likely to be thrown out by the solicitors’ professional body.

Ms Wolfe said he was “not the sort of man who needs to be on the sex offenders’ register” – but the judge disagreed.

“I would suspect that the general public would say he does,” Judge Peter Hughes QC told her.

Judge Hughes said he found the case “deeply troubling” and said he struggled to understand how such an intelligent man with his background could behave as he had done.

He told Wotherspoon: “You have brought disgrace upon yourself and have caused acute distress and embarrassment on your wife, your family.”

During the trial the woman, who comes from London but can’t be named, said she was left “shocked and shaken” by what happened.

She said Wotherspoon, who had chosen to sit beside her even though there were vacant seats when he got onto the bus, first put his hand on her knee. She said that by the time the coach made its scheduled stop at Tebay, he had spent half an hour with his hand between her legs.

“I was thinking of hitting him or screaming, but you never know how people will react,” she said.

Wotherspoon said that after sitting for so long next to the woman in the bus’ cramped seats it seemed natural to stroke her thigh.


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