An 84-year-old man must sign the sex offenders’ register for sexually assaulting a teenage girl.
Former lorry driver and plastics worker Robert Wright, of Militia Court, Alnwick, denied the offence, but was convicted by magistrates at Bedlington on Thursday after a two-day trial.
After the case was found proved, his lawyer Lee Fish described him as a decent man. “Perhaps he didn’t appreciate the boundaries which exist now, because of course times have changed, for the better.”
The court heard Wright had fondled the 15-year-old girl over her clothing as she sat in his car last November. She was so shocked she froze, but went home and told her mother.
Wright said he had been trying to reassure her about her looks. He described a brief touch on the legs and shoulder.
The girl said he had felt high on her inner thigh and a breast. Magistrates said they were in no doubt his action had been sexual.
Glenda Turnbull, prosecuting, told him: “You are trying to explain touching on her sexual parts to make her feel better about herself. You touched her on her sexual areas and the only benefit from that was for you, wasn’t it?” He denied that.
Asked if he would have done it in front of her parents, he said: “I don’t know about that. I wouldn’t start touching her on the leg if her mother was there.”
Mr Fish suggested the girl had overreacted to a minor, innocent incident that had no sinister motive.
“In his 84 years he must have had access to children and there is no suggestion that he has ever behaved inappropriately in the past.” Later the court heard he had four children and 10 grandchildren.
Sentence was adjourned to October 22 for a probation report.