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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Lawyer guilty of groping woman on bus journey through Cumbria

An international lawyer has been found guilty of groping the young woman sitting next to him on a long-distance bus.

Hugh Wotherspoon photo
Hugh Wotherspoon

Related: Lawyer denies sexual assault on bus journey through Cumbria

Hugh Robert 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 south from Scotland.

At Carlisle Crown Court, the 54-year-old married solicitor - who specialises in patent applications from his firm’s offices in London, Munich and New York - admitted that he had “tried it on” with the woman.

But he insisted he was not guilty of any criminal offence because he believed she was enjoying it as much as he was.

But the woman said Wotherspoon’s behaviour had left her “shocked and shaken” and the only reason she did not hit him or scream for help was that she was afraid of what his reaction might have been.

The jury took just under an hour today to find him guilty of assaulting the woman by touching her in a sexual manner against her will.

Wotherspoon’s barrister Madeleine Wolfe said that his wife and children were standing by him, although only his brother was in court to support him.

Ms Wolfe said that as a result of the verdict Wotherspoon faced “a real likelihood that he is going to lose his profession and his work”.

She told the judge: “The consequences are far reaching - perhaps more far reaching for him than for others who come before this court.”

Judge Peter Hughes QC described it as "a very worrying case" but said Wotherspoon would not be going to prison.

He said that when he first heard details of what Wotherspoon had done he had considered that a conditional discharge would be appropriate if he were convicted.

But he said he had become “more concerned” the more he heard Wotherspoon giving evidence.

“I find it remarkable that a man of his age should have behaved in that way on a night bus from Edinburgh to London,” he said.

“I have become increasingly concerned by the nature of the offence and how he came to be in this situation.”

Because of that, the judge said, he needed Wotherspoon to discuss his background and his reaction to the guilty verdict before passing sentence.

Wotherspoon, of Dalmeny Road, Carshalton, Surrey, was remanded on bail for background reports.

He will be sentenced on August 31.


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