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Solicitor who groped bus traveller put on sex offenders' register
9:09am Monday 3rd September 2012 in News
A SOLICITOR who groped the young woman sitting next to him on a long-distance bus through Cumbria has been put on the sex offenders' register for five years.
At Carlisle Crown Court Hugh Robert Wotherspoon was also put under three years probation supervision, ordered to attend a sexual behaviour programme, and pay £3,500 in costs and compensation.
Wotherspoon was arrested at Tebay Services on the M6 last August after the German-born woman told the driver he had been repeatedly fondling her thigh on the journey from Edinburgh.
Wotherspoon, a patents agent from Dalmeny Road, Carshalton, Surrey, admitted “trying it on” with the woman, but he insisted he was not guilty of any criminal offence because he believed she was enjoying it as much as he was.
“It seemed suitable and comfortable and proper at the time and I thought she would feel the same,” he said. “I put my hand on her knee. I thought she might like it. It just seemed right. It didn't seem wrong or terrible in that situation.”
Earlier this month the 54-year-old father of two teenaged children was found guilty of assaulting the woman by touching her in a sexual manner against her will.
Last week his barrister Madeleine Wolfe described him as “an unconventional character” but, she said, “that does not make him any more dangerous than somebody who is perhaps more straightforward.”
She said Wotherspoon “finds it very difficult to simply speak to women – he is very shy – and he got it very wrong on this occasion.”
She said the consequences of his two and a half hours on the bus were “so appalling for him that he will never behave in that way again.
She said his wife – who was in court to see him sentenced, though she did not attend his trial - would have to go back to work because he was now unemployed after resigning from his highly paid job.
He could also be thrown out by the solicitors’ governing body, she said Passing sentence, Judge Peter Hughes QC said he found the case "deeply troubling".
“I struggle to see how any man of mature years and high intelligence could possibly have considered it appropriate to do what he did,” he said.
“What is deeply troubling is the fact that he says he does not consider there to be anything inappropriate in what he was doing.”
He ordered Wotherspoon to pay the woman £1,000 compensation, though he acknowledged that no amount of money could make up for what he had done to her.