Policeman accused of sex attack is ‘someone to look up to’ says colleague

An Essex policeman accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a bar during a night out in Chelmsford has been described as “professional and someone to look up to” by a colleague.

PC Anthony Oliver told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that 25-year-old Stuart Chaplin was a credit to the police force, made good decisions and knew how to conduct himself.

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

Giving evidence Chaplin told the court 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 at Walkabout.

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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 in the evening in the bar and said: "It's not something I would do."

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Giving evidence the woman said she had been in the smoking area and had bent down to get something out of her handbag when she felt an impact to her bottom and initially thought she had been kicked. 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.

Cross-examined by Mr Hughes, Chaplin said he had been drunk on the night in question but denied that alcohol had affected his behaviour.

"I believe I can control my actions when I'm drunk," he said.

The trial continues.

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