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Geordie football star Paul Gascoigne denies sex assault charge

Paul Gascoigne Photo: NCJ Media

Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne will defend himself against a sex
assault charge by saying he has a propensity to kiss people "in a non-sexual manner", a court heard.

The 51-year-old was arrested while travelling on a train between York and
Newcastle for allegedly kissing a woman without consent in Darlington in August.

He appeared at Teesside Crown Court to enter a not guilty plea to the single
charge of sexual assault.

He will apply for legal aid to be represented by a QC, as the case is being
prosecuted by a barrister of the same seniority.

His barrister Michelle Heeley QC told the court that a number of character
witnesses will give evidence "about his propensity to kiss people in a
non-sexual manner".

During the 10-minute hearing, Gascoigne had to be asked to be quiet by the
Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton.

The former player, wearing a blue suit and an open neck shirt, appeared upset when he sat in the dock.

He stated his full name, date of birth and when he was asked his nationality,
replied: "English, Protestant."

After hearing his trial could not be accommodated before October 14, Gascogine called out: "Sir, Your Honour."

The judge replied: "Be quiet."

Gascoigne said: "I'm worried to bits. I'm scared."

He then apologised to the judge.

His solicitor, who was in court while his barrister was appearing via a
videolink, then went to speak to Gascoigne in the dock.

The judge said: "You have a solicitor and you have a QC, they will look after
your interests."

The judge then told Gascoigne to be quiet again, to which the player said:

"I'm tired."

During another conversation with his solicitor while the hearing took place,
Gascoigne said that the police officer who arrested him talked about football, and asked for an autograph and selfies.

Judge Bourne-Arton warned him: "Everyone can hear what you are saying. It is in your interest to speak quietly."

Gascoigne, who played for Newcastle United, Spurs, Lazio, Rangers, Middlesbrough and Everton, among other clubs, was granted unconditional bail ahead of his trial.

The judge warned him he must turn up for the trial.

Gascogine replied: "I will do, your lord.

"I cannot wait.

"I have done nothing wrong."

As he walked out of the court room, Gascoigne thanked Judge Bourne-Arton, kissed his fingers and gestured towards the robed judge in an apparent mark of respect.