Wednesday 23 January 2019

Police officer accused of squeezing woman's breast was 'three-quarters of the way to absolutely wasted', disciplinary hearing told

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Stock picture

Tom Wilkinson

A police officer accused of cupping and squeezing a woman's breast when he was on a day trip out with his colleagues agreed he was "three-quarters of the way to absolutely wasted" when the incident happened.

Pc Ralph Bainbridge, 41, denies breaching Cleveland Police's Standards of Professional Behaviour, saying he was trying to give the woman a hug from behind.

The officer, who had drunk up to 16 pints of beer on the pub crawl in York last October, says he accidentally touched her breast and did not squeeze it.

A disciplinary hearing at the Grand Hotel, Hartlepool, has heard that the woman, who cannot be identified, said: "Get off, you are lucky I haven't punched you in the f***ing throat."

On the second day of the hearing, Dijen Basu QC, representing Cleveland Police, said: "This was on a day out, this is not a criticism, it is perfectly innocent to go out and have drinks.

"It is important to look at the level of intoxication. You told (the investigating officer) on a scale of one to 10, where 10 is absolutely wasted, you were seven-and-a-half.

"You were three-quarters of the way to absolutely wasted?"

Pc Bainbridge replied: "By your mathematics, yes."

He described himself as "hardly the most delicate of people" and a "big lump", but admitted the woman had "possibly not" expected him to come up behind her.

He explained he did not immediately apologise to the woman because he felt "total and utter embarrassment".

Mr Basu said: "You grabbed her from behind and deliberately squeezed her breast."

The officer, who was an acting sergeant based in Hartlepool, replied: "That is an untrue statement, it is a misinterpretation of events."

In his closing speech to the disciplinary panel, Mr Basu said: "We say it is exceedingly unlikely a person would misinterpret what (the complainant) has described.

"She has always described cupping and squeezing. Both of these actions are the description of a deliberate act about which she cannot sensibly be mistaken."

In her closing speech, Ailsa Williamson, representing Pc Bainbridge, pointed out discrepancies in the woman's evidence about where the incident happened and other witnesses who said it took place elsewhere.

Ms Williamson said: "In a case where there are no independent witnesses, you as a panel need to be satisfied that the evidence of the complainant is reliable."

The panel adjourned the hearing for the day and will give their decision on Wednesday.

Press Association

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