An 84-year-old man found guilty of sexual assault on a girl of 15 is not a predator, magistrates have been told.
Robert Wright had possibly misunderstood modern boundaries, his defence suggested.
The court at Bedlington also heard a statement written by his victim, who said she suffered sleepless nights that had affected her performance in her GCSEs.
Wright, of Militia Court, Alnwick, was given a year’s community order with a year’s supervision and ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register for five years. He must pay £225 court costs.
Last month magistrates convicted him after a two-day trial, having heard he had touched the girl over winter clothing on the inner thigh and a breast.
In her statement, she said she was concerned no one would believe her.
‘As a result of the incident, I have become self-conscious around other males I come across in public places,’ she wrote. ‘I find it hard to sleep, which in turn has affected my school work.’
Lee Fish, for Wright, told the court the crux of the case was ‘a simple error of judgment, partly borne out of his age and a failure to understand appropriate boundaries.’
He said: “It’s quite clear that he placed himself in this position, but I have to make one thing completely clear: This is not a man who is a sinister predator of children.”
Mr Fish said he had been hard-working and was kind and generous.