Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland film director Fingleton told actress she looked submissive, court told

Bafta-nominated film director Stephen Fingleton at Isleworth Crown Court (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Bafta-nominated film director Stephen Fingleton at Isleworth Crown Court (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A Bafta-nominated film director from Northern Ireland told an actress he is accused of sexually assaulting that when he first saw her he thought she was "a submissive" and looked like a "woman who could please," a court has heard.

Stephen Fingleton met the woman at a film industry party in 2017, jurors were told.

The court heard that when he told her he was looking for an actress for one of his films the pair exchanged numbers and eventually arranged to have lunch at her west London flat.

The jury of six women and six men heard that after lunch on the afternoon of October 27 2017, Fingleton stroked her hair, pulled her head to his crotch and then tried to kiss her.

Giving evidence at Isleworth Crown Court on Wednesday, the woman said she started crying and told him to leave.

She said Fingleton then hugged her, stroked her hair and put his hand under her T-shirt before telling her if she had been ugly he would not have been there.

She added: "I just continued crying and he came up to me and held me and started stroking me.

"I thought maybe he sort of wanted to apologise for what had happened earlier. Then I felt his hand under my T-shirt."

Asked what she did she said: "I just kept crying, and then he said, 'When I first saw you at the BFI I saw that you were a submissive and you looked like a woman who could please'.

"I said, 'That's not right, that's not me'. I said, 'I wish I was ugly', and he still held me and he said, 'I would not be here if you were ugly'."

After Fingleton left she texted her friend and said: "I met a director and he was totally Harvey Weinstein," the jury heard.

Fingleton, 35, from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, denies sexual assault.

The woman previously told the court she was hanging up laundry after lunch when Fingleton grabbed her head and pushed it towards his crotch and said: "You get down there, you get down there."

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she then told Fingleton she had thought it was a business meeting but he told her: "I don't separate the two."

When she told Fingleton she was not interested he held her hands and tried to kiss her, the jury heard.

She added: "He pulled me closer and tried to kiss me but I kept turning my cheek.

"As he was holding my hands I remember thinking he is much stronger than me and he could rape me if he wanted to and I remember just shouting, 'You have to leave now'."

Prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward told the court on Tuesday that during the lunch Fingleton started to bring up sexual topics "out of blue", such as whether the actress had done nude scenes.

Ms Ledward said the woman, in her 20s, began to feel uncomfortable when Fingleton touched her shoulder "quite unexpectedly and seemingly unnecessarily" as he went past her, the prosecutor added.

The prosecutor said the woman did not say anything because "she did not want to offend and ruin a possible work opportunity if she had gotten the wrong end of the stick".

Ms Ledward said Fingleton cornered the woman in the kitchen, boxing her in with his hands so she had to push past him to get out.

The jury heard Fingleton stroked her hair and put his arm around her while they watched a film she was in.

Later, when she was crouching down hanging her laundry, Fingleton grabbed her head and pulled it to his crotch.

Ms Ledward said: "The defendant grabbed the top of her head with his hands and pushed it towards his crotch.

"She felt he was directing her to perform oral sex on him."

The trial continues.

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