A LAWYER has been found guilty of groping a woman sitting next to him on a night bus from Edinburgh to London.
Hugh Wotherspoon was arrested at Cumbria’s Tebay Services on the M6 last August after the German-born woman told the driver he had been repeatedly fondling her thigh on the overnight journey south from Scotland.
At Carlisle Crown Court, the 54-year-old married solicitor – who specialises in patent applications – admitted that he had “tried it on” with the woman.
But he insisted he was not guilty of any criminal offence because he told the court that he believed she was enjoying it as much as he was.
The woman, who was not named in court, told police
that Wotherspoon’s behaviour had left her “shocked and shaken”.
She said the only reason she did not hit him or scream for help was that she was afraid of how he would react.
The jury took less than an hour to find Wotherspoon guilty of assaulting the woman by touching her in a sexual manner against her will.
Madeleine Wolfe told the
court that his wife and children were standing by him,
although only his brother arrived in court to support him.
Ms Wolfe said that as a result of the verdict Wotherspoon faced “a real likelihood that he is going to lose his profession and his work”.
She told the judge: “The consequences are far reaching, perhaps more far reaching for him than for others who come before this court.”
Judge Peter Hughes QC described it as “a very worrying case” but said Wotherspoon would not be going to prison.
He said that when he first heard details of what Wotherspoon had done he had considered that a conditional discharge would be appropriate if he were convicted.
But he said he had become ‘more concerned’ the more he heard Wotherspoon giving evidence.
He said: “I find it remarkable that a man of his age should
have behaved in that way on a night bus from Edinburgh to London.
“I have become increasingly concerned by the nature of the offence and how he came to be in this situation.”
The judge said he would defer sentence on Wotherspoon, of Dalmeny Road, Carshalton, Surrey, until background reports had been compiled.
Wotherspoon was remanded on bail and is due to be sentenced on 31 August.