A woman who alleges Paul Gascoigne sexually assaulted her on a train by planting a sloppy, drunken kiss on her lips has tearfully told a jury how it was “completely out of the blue”.
When other passengers challenged him about his behaviour, the 52-year-old former England footballer said he was trying to boost her confidence, jurors at Teesside Crown Court were told.
The ex-Newcastle United, Spurs, Rangers, Middlesbrough and Everton midfielder denies a single count of sexual assault, said to have happened on a York to Newcastle train in August 2018.
Giving evidence behind a screen, the woman, who cannot be identified, said she noticed the man, whom she did not recognise, was being noisy and had food around his mouth. She spotted cans on the train floor.
Asked to describe his demeanour, the woman said: “He certainly seemed drunk, intoxicated.”
She told the jury she put her headphones on and attempted to ignore the noise coming from Gascoigne behind her, saying: “Midway through the journey he asked me if I was a palm reader.
“I said no and tried to keep looking forward.”
The woman described how, later on in the journey, he attempted to sit on her lap, at which point she moved aside.
She told jurors: “He kept saying sorry. I said ‘It’s fine’. I was just looking out of the window.
“He said sorry a second time, and then tapped my arm.
“I turned around to face him and he grabbed my face and kissed me full on the lips, and I was taken aback because it was just completely out of the blue.”
William Mousley QC, prosecuting, said: “This case concerns a brief but unpleasant assault with sexual overtones on a train by a drunken male stranger in his 50s.”
The prosecution said: “He put his hands on her cheeks and kissed her forcibly and sloppily on the lips.”
Other passengers challenged him, accusing him of “unacceptable sexual behaviour”, the court heard, and he replied saying he was trying to boost the woman’s confidence.
She called police after getting off the train and at the time had no idea about his identity, the court heard.
It was only a week later that she saw on Sky News who he was, jurors were told.
On the night of the incident, police traced Gascoigne to a hotel in Jesmond, Newcastle, and he told officers on the phone he knew what it was about – “he had, in his words, ‘kissed a fat lass’,” Mr Mousley said.
When he was questioned the next morning, when he was “more sober”, Mr Mousley said, he did not show “contrition” and told lies instead, claiming the woman had been abused about her build, “and he had given her a peck on the lips to reassure her as he felt sorry for her”.
The prosecution asked the jury to consider what the complainant thought of the incident, with Gascoigne “forcing his wet and sloppy mouth onto her lips”.
Mr Mousley said: “Shocking, upsetting, perhaps even frightened at what might else have happened, a blatant act in front of others, humiliating perhaps, perhaps it was him showing off.”
He added: “The prosecution case is this was a sexual assault and we will seek to prove it by making you sure that it was nothing else.”
Cross-examined by Michelle Heeley QC, for Gascoigne, the complainant said she did not hear anyone call him “Gazza”.
She also denied hearing anyone on the train say: “Why would you want a photo with that fat cow?”
Ms Heeley then put it to the witness that Gascoigne had come over to comfort her and said, “Do not worry, you’re beautiful”.
The woman responded: “I do not recall that happening.”
The defence counsel asked if the kiss lasted around one or two seconds, and the woman said it lasted between three and five seconds, with Gascoigne’s lips over her closed mouth.
Ms Heeley asked whether a fellow passenger had said, following the kiss: “You’ve got a responsibility to other women on this train to do something (about the incident).”
The woman said: “I had already made up my mind to report it to the travel police, because it was unwanted behaviour, there was no instigation on my part of wanting any attention from him.”
She said she was still “gobsmacked” when she gave police details later that night about what happened.
“I was on my own, and because the behaviour just came out of nowhere, it just shocked me,” she told the court.