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Gascoigne's tears in court as jury clears him of sexual assault

Paul Gascoigne arrives at Teesside Crown Court yesterday with his personal manager Katie Davies
Paul Gascoigne arrives at Teesside Crown Court yesterday with his personal manager Katie Davies

By Tom Wilkinson

Former football star Paul Gascoigne spoke of his relief after he was cleared of sexually assaulting a woman on a train after he kissed her on the lips.

He said it had been "so tough" to have a sexual allegation hanging over him for more than 12 months, and that he was looking forward to getting on with his life.

The 52-year-old was cleared by a jury at Teesside Crown Court of sexual assault, and of the lesser, alternative count of assault by beating following a trial lasting four days.

He was accused of forcefully and sloppily kissing the stranger while he was drunk on a York to Durham train last August.

Gascoigne wept in the dock when the jury foreman announced the not guilty verdict for the sexual offence.

Outside court he smiled and stood beside his solicitor Imogen Cox as she read a statement on his behalf, saying: "To have a sexual allegation for over 12 months has been tough.

"I am so glad I was finally able to put over my side of the story and that the jury came to the correct verdict."

He thanked his legal team and agents, as well as friends and family for their support.

He also thanked character witnesses, the ex-boxers Ricky Hatton and Jane Couch, his former agent Mel Stein and his addiction therapist Paul Spanjar for telling the court "such lovely things about me".

His statement concluded: "I'm now looking forward to getting on with my life."

Gascoigne himself then said: "I am off to the dentist."

That was an apparent reference to his implants which featured in the trial - as the defence explained his slurred speech on the train was due to the fact he was missing his bottom implants.

Giving evidence during the trial, Gascoigne removed them to show how it affected his speech.

In his closing speech, William Mousley QC had told the jury Gascoigne was not telling the truth about what went on with the woman on the train, and had "lied through his teeth, whichever teeth they were".

Michelle Heeley QC, defending, had argued that when Gascoigne kissed the stranger there was no sexual intent.

She said the former player kissed a woman who was not expecting it and did not like it, but that did not make him a sex offender. She said the kiss lasted two or three seconds, on a packed train, and was not preceded by any "lecherous comment", touching or groping.

At the end of the trial Judge Peter Armstrong told Gascoigne: "You are now discharged and free to go."

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