Former star Nelson cleared of sex assault

Ex-footballer Sammy Nelson

Shaun Smith

A former Northern Ireland and Arsenal star has been cleared of groping a pensioner on a bus after a boozy afternoon watching the Gunners play.

Samuel Nelson, known as Sammy, was accused of grabbing the woman between the legs last October 28.

The 69-year-old was cleared of one count of sexual assault for the alleged incident on the packed park-and-ride bus from Brighton city centre.

Nelson, who now lives in Hove, asked the woman, who is in her 70s, whether she and her friends were on their way "back to the nursing home".


He then joked that the man he was with - his son Peter - was his carer and started chatting to the group about his career as a football player.

The complainant told Brighton Magistrates Court that she had been returning from a concert of Beethoven music.

She claimed that Nelson groped her after they had been making small talk for a few minutes.

"All of a sudden this hand came down between my legs with some force around my pubic and vaginal area," she said.

"I was absolutely shocked and really angry and I said, 'If you do that again I will give you such a slap'.

"About 10 minutes later he did exactly the same thing again. I asked him to move away from me as he was invading my personal space."

Nelson told the court: "I strike up conversations - I find it easy to do that just to pass the time and tell a couple of jokes."

He admitted he could be seen touching the complainant's hand in CCTV footage from the bus, but said he had no proper recollection of the journey itself. He denied ever groping the pensioner.

Magistrate Dr Peter Sutton said there were inconsistencies between the complainant's account and the CCTV footage.

At a previous hearing, Nelson admitted one count of assault by beating relating to pressing the complainant's hand to his mouth.

He was given an absolute discharge by magistrates for that offence, but ordered to pay £85 (€96) costs.