Longhorsley vicar 'groped American student on plane'

  • Published
The Reverend Peter McConnell arriving at court in 2017
Image caption,
The Reverend Peter McConnell denies any inappropriate contact with the student

A vicar groped a male student during a trans-Atlantic flight, a court has heard.

The Reverend Peter McConnell had been drinking when he touched the American man, Newcastle Crown Court was told.

The jury heard the 63-year-old engaged the man in conversation, including making reference to a sex act.

Mr McConnell, of Longhorsley, Northumberland, denies sexually assaulting the man on the flight from Philadelphia to Heathrow in March 2017.

'Asked for forgiveness'

The court heard Mr McConnell had been drinking wine on the overnight flight and told the student he was with his adult godson and had been visiting his two sisters, one of whom was seriously ill.

Prosecutor Andrew Espley told the jury that as the British Airways flight approached the UK, the student awoke to discover Mr McConnell groping him under a blanket.

The court heard Mr McConnell asked him: "Is that not alright?" and then blamed his actions on the alcohol he had drunk and "asked for forgiveness".

After revealing the incident to his mother, the student, who cannot be named, went to the airline and police.

The court was told that in a subsequent police interview under caution, Mr McConnell admitted drinking "a few" small bottles of wine, but denied any inappropriate contact with the student.

The trial continues.

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