- Video report by ITV News correspondent Damon Green
A woman who alleges Paul Gascoigne sexually assaulted her on a train by planting a sloppy, drunken kiss on her lips has tearfully told a jury how it was “completely out of the blue”.
When other passengers challenged him about his behaviour, said to have happened on a York to Newcastle train in August 2018, the former England footballer said he was trying to boost her confidence, jurors at Teesside Crown Court were told.
The ex-Newcastle United, Spurs, Rangers, Middlesbrough and Everton midfielder denies a single count of sexual assault.
Giving evidence behind a screen, the woman, who cannot be identified, said she noticed the man, whom she did not recognise, was being noisy and had food around his mouth. She spotted cans on the train floor.
Asked to describe his demeanour, the woman said: “He certainly seemed drunk, intoxicated.”
She told the jury she put her headphones on and attempted to ignore the noise coming from accused, saying: “Midway through the journey he asked me if I was a palm reader.
“I said no and tried to keep looking forward.”
The woman described how, later on in the journey, he attempted to sit on her lap, at which point she moved aside.
She told jurors: “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.”
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.”
The prosecution said: “He put his hands on her cheeks and kissed her forcibly and sloppily on the lips.”
Other passengers challenged him, accusing him of “unacceptable sexual behaviour”, the court heard, and he replied saying he was trying to boost the woman’s confidence.
She called police after getting off the train and at the time had no idea about his identity, the court heard.
It was only a week later that she saw on Sky News who he was, jurors were told.
On the night of the incident, police traced Gascoigne, 52, to a hotel in Jesmond, Newcastle, and he told officers on the phone he knew what it was about – “he had, in his words, ‘kissed a fat lass’,” Mr Mousley said.
When he was questioned the next morning, when he was “more sober”, Mr Mousley said, he did not show “contrition” and told lies instead, claiming the woman had been abused about her build, “and he had given her a peck on the lips to reassure her as he felt sorry for her”.
The prosecution asked the jury to consider what the complainant thought of the incident.
Mr Mousley said: “Shocking, upsetting, perhaps even frightened at what might else have happened, a blatant act in front of others, humiliating perhaps, perhaps it was him showing off.”
He added: “The prosecution case is this was a sexual assault and we will seek to prove it by making you sure that it was nothing else.”