England

Paul Gascoigne train kiss trial: Ex-footballer breaks down in court

Paul Gascoigne arriving at Teesside Crown Court Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Paul Gascoigne denies sexual assault

Ex-England footballer Paul Gascoigne broke down in tears as he denied sexually assaulting a woman on a train.

The 52-year-old is accused of "forcefully and sloppily" kissing a woman on a service from York to Newcastle in August 2018.

He told Teesside Crown Court he had wanted to reassure her after overhearing another passenger describe her as "fat and ugly".

Mr Gascoigne said the kiss was "just a peck" and was not sexual.

Giving evidence, the former Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Rangers, Middlesbrough and Everton midfielder said he was travelling from Birmingham to Newcastle with his nephews on 20 August last year.

He said while passengers were asking for selfies and autographs he heard a man, who he could not see, say about a female passenger: "What do you want a photo of her for? She's fat and ugly."

Bar-Mitzvahs

Mr Gascoigne told the jury he previously had trouble with his weight and "automatically" went to sit next to the woman to reassure her.

He said he told her: "You're not fat and ugly, you're beautiful."

A court usher handed him a tissue as he became emotional while giving evidence in the dock.

Jurors were handed a file of photos showing Mr Gascoigne kissing and being kissed by famous footballers and fans.

A photo of him kissing Diana, Princess of Wales, was also included.

His defence barrister, Michelle Heeley QC, read out character references from former professional boxer Ricky Hatton MBE and Mr Gascoigne's former agent Mel Stein.

In his reference, Mr Stein said the former player was a "tactile" and friendly person.

He said he had invited Mr Gascoigne to several Bar-Mitzvahs, adding that on one occasion: "He greeted a rabbi's wife by hugging and kissing her. He apologised when he realised what he had done."

'Kissed a fat lass'

Earlier, jurors heard how the Mr Gascoigne was in an "intoxicated, drunken state" when he was arrested.

British Transport Police PC Robert Moody told the court Mr Gascoigne was drinking beer in a hotel lobby when he arrived to arrest him.

PC Moody said he had spoken to Mr Gascoigne prior to travelling to the hotel, telling jurors Gascoigne had said: "I know what it's about, I kissed a fat lass."

The court has heard Mr Gascoigne "forcefully and sloppily" kissed the woman on the lips while drunk on the train and that she was left "shocked and upset".

In a police interview he said he had undergone an operation which made him sick if he drank spirits and that "thousands" of strangers had come up to him and kissed him over the years.

He said he had only consumed "three or four cans" prior to the incident because spirits made him "spew up" following the operation.

During the police interview he told officers: "I can have beer, I won't spew up. Any shorts, I spew up immediately," adding: "Before the operation I could drink gin no problem."

He said any impression he had been slurring his words was because he did not have a bridge of teeth in. He took the teeth out during his evidence and demonstrated how different his voice sounded without them in.

Mr Gascoigne, who now lives in Leicester, denies a charge of sexual assault by touching.

The trial continues.

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