Policeman accused of sex attack ‘playfully slapped woman on the bottom’, court hears

Stuart Chaplin has been cleared of sexual assault relating to an incident at Walkabout Bar in Chelms

Stuart Chaplin has been cleared of sexual assault relating to an incident at Walkabout Bar in Chelmsford Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

An Essex policeman accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a bar during a night out in Chelmsford has told a court that he had “playfully slapped her on the bottom”.

Giving evidence at Ipswich Crown Court, 25-year-old Stuart Chaplin said he had been out with a group of other officers on a colleague's leaving do on the night in question and had been drunk.

He accepted "playfully slapping" the alleged victim on the bottom when she bent down to get a lighter out of her handbag in the smoking area of the Walkabout Bar in Chelmsford.

He said there had been "playful banter" in the group of people he was talking to in the smoking area and he denied there was any sexual overtone to what he did.

He denied squeezing the woman's bottom later the same evening in the bar and said: "It's not something I would do."

Chaplin, of Witham, has denied two offences of sexually assaulting the woman by touching her bottom twice while she was in the Walkabout bar in May last year.

Chaplin also denied an offence of exposure but the jury has been directed to return a not guilty verdict on this charge by the trial judge.

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Giving evidence the woman said she had bent down to get something out of her handbag and had felt an impact to her bottom which she initially thought was a kick.

Later the same evening she claimed that Chaplin had cupped her bottom with his hand and squeezed it.

Cross-examined by Richard Conley for Chaplin she denied that any contact by Chaplin with her was "innocent and friendly" and that she had either embellished or made up what happened.

Gareth Hughes, prosecuting, told the court that Chaplin was captured on CCTV smacking the woman's bottom as she bent down to get something out of her handbag.

When she turned round she allegedly saw Chaplin "laughing and smirking".

Later in the evening she was getting ready to leave the bar when Chaplin allegedly grabbed her bottom and squeezed hard.

During his evidence, Chaplin said that when he was told about the allegations he had started crying and had felt scared.

"I was suspended from duty and it broke my heart," he said.

Character witness Inspector Emma Brookes described Chaplin as a "caring, sincere young man who was 100% professional".

The trial continues.

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