Published: 15:39, 23 September 2020
| Updated: 15:42, 23 September 2020
A juror thrown off a trial after groping a court worker to 'check her underwear' says it was “just banter.”
Bus driver David Houghton, 58, of Sheerness approached the woman from behind and rubbed her thighs, cupped her bottom and pinged her bra strap.
Last week at Hastings Magistrates Court he pleaded guilty to sexual assault.
While molesting her at Maidstone Crown Court last summer Houghton, of Granville Road, said: “I’m just checking to see if you’re wearing the gear.”
She pushed him away, saying: “What are you doing?”
After pinging the woman’s bra strap Houghton announced the ‘result’ of his underwear check to the other jurors, stating: “No. She’s not.”
Prosecutor Simon Allen said: “The location is a surprising one, a working day at crown court where the woman was going about her duties.”
Mr Allen said upon leaving the court on the first day, Houghton “wrapped his arms around her like a bear hug” almost dragging her onto her tiptoes.
He said: “He clearly tries to kiss her but missed and his cheek touched her cheek, leaving a red mark with his stubble.
“She said: ‘Thanks very much but don’t do that again’.”
The next day Houghton approached her from behind in front of his fellow jurors and rubbed her thighs and bottom, almost touching her crotch. He then pinged her bra strap.
Mr Allen said the victim was “flustered” and “distressed.”
Upon hearing what had happened the judge discharged Houghton from the jury and he was escorted from the building.
Mr Allen said: “I take this as a very serious incident. Even though the woman describes herself as being made of stern stuff this has upset her.”
The court heard Houghton had no history of sexual offending.
The bus driver told Kent Online: “It was just a bit of banter. Obviously, I regret it.”
The boss of Sittingbourne -based Chalkwell Coaches, Houghton’s employer, said he was “not at work, pending further developments.”
He is due to be sentenced in Folkestone next month.