Wiltshire

Barnabas founder Patrick Sookhdeo guilty of sex assault

Patrick Sookhdeo Image copyright other
Image caption Patrick Sookhdeo carried out the assault at the Pewsey offices of the St Barnabas Trust last year

The founder of a Wiltshire-based Christian charity has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a female member of staff.

Patrick Sookhdeo, from Barnabas Aid International, was also found to have intimidated two employees who were due to give evidence against him.

The jury at Swindon Crown Court found the 67-year-old guilty on all counts.

He was ordered to serve a three-month community order for all three charges, to run concurrently.

He was also placed on a three-month curfew, and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £3,500 and a victim surcharge of £60.

Sookhdeo carried out the assault on the woman in the charity's Pewsey offices in February last year.

'Completely inappropriate'

During the trial, the court heard Sookhdeo had called the woman into his office for a meeting and put his hand on her thigh.

She was later called back to the office, with Sookhdeo asking her: "What would your reaction be if I reached out and touched your breasts?"

He said "would you excuse me if I touch your breasts?" before he carried out the assault, the court heard.

The woman said his behaviour was "completely inappropriate" and the incident left her feeling "stunned and shocked".

Sookhdeo was found guilty of one charge of sexual assault and two counts of intimidating a witness.

The court heard that an internal investigation conducted by the charity in June cleared Sookhdeo of any wrongdoing.

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