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Marsworth solicitor not guilty of sexual assault on train

Court - justice

4:07pm 2nd March 2018

A solicitor was found not guilty of sexually assaulting a young woman on a late night train today (Fri) after telling a court he'd drunk so much during the day he had no memory of the incident.

Simon Bryning told a jury he couldn’t remember getting on the train or any of the journey.

But Mr Bryning told the court today it would have been “massively out of character” and a jury took just over an hour to acquit him of the charge of sexual assault.

Earlier the woman claimed Simon Bryning’s hand had reached through a gap in the seats and touched her knee and thigh.

The woman, who had been talking to her partner on her mobile, told the court she had used the phone’s camera to take a picture of Mr Bryning’s right hand.

She told the court: ”I put my hand over his fingers and pulled them towards me and bent them back and shouted at him. I told him to get his f...... hands off me and if he touched me again I would break his f...... fingers.”

But giving evidence today Mr Bryning, who is 34, said he had drunk so much that day that he couldn’t remember leaving a pub in the City, making his way to Euston Station or getting on the train.

He said he couldn’t remember any of the journey on the train and went on “My next memory is being on the forecourt at Tring Railway Station standing next to a police car having been arrested.

“The officers said I was being arrested for sexual touching,” he told the court.

Mr Bryning, of Lukes Lea, Marsworth near Aylesbury, pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the young woman as she travelled home from work in January of last year.

The offence was alleged to have taken place in the front carriage of a London Midland train late at night of January 12.

St Albans crown was told that having slumped onto a seat directly in front of the seat where the woman was sitting, Mr Bryning looked back at her through the gap to make a crude gesture at her, pulled “kissy faces” and then reach his hand through to touch her leg.

The jury heard the woman was talking to her boyfriend when the defendant first came into the carriage and gave him a running text commentary on what Mr Bryning was doing.

As a result, the court was told, the boyfriend was able to alert British Transport Police who sent officers to Tring Railway Station in Herts where Mr Bryning was arrested and taken to Aylesbury Police Station where he spent the night in the cells.

Today (Fri) he went into the witness box and told the court how during the day he had embarked on a heavy drinking session with work colleagues.

He explained that January was usually a quiet month following the busy build up to Christmas and so, with two work colleagues, he had gone to an Italian restaurant that lunchtime five minutes from their office.

He said it was a chance to catch up personally and professionally and discuss marketing opportunities.

Mr Bryning explained to the jury he was a commercial property lawyer specialising in development and was a “Senior Associate” at the company where he worked.

Continuing his evidence, he said he and his friends were in the restaurant for around three hours. He told the jury “I think I had a couple of bottles of wine - white wine.”

Back at his office later that afternoon he said there were more “celebratory drinks” for a female colleague who was going off on maternity leave.

He said he thought he drank a further “couple of glasses” of wine there and he said the celebrations continued during the early evening in a nearby pub.

He told the jury: ”I would have had vodka and tonic, possibly more wine. I drink Guinness as well. I was pretty drunk.”

From there he said he and his colleagues went to a darts themed pub called “Flight Club” where the drinking continued and he couldn’t remember leaving.

“My memory is getting hazy by that point but I think I went back to the pub.”

His barrister Timothy Moloney asked him “Can you remember leaving the pub?”

He replied “No.”

Mr Bryning said he thought he had made his way by taxi to Euston Station but had no memory of the journey or making his way to Platform 8 where he boarded the train at around 11.30 that night.

His next memory he said was being arrested at Tring Railway Station.

Mr Moloney asked him “Do you remember touching the woman?”

He replied “No.”

He said he couldn’t remember gesturing towards the woman with his fingers either side of his mouth and licking or pulling “Kissy faces.”

Mr Bryning, who during the trial this week has been shown CCTV clips of him on board the train that night, said “I was a mess. I was clearly heavily intoxicated.

“Would I be proud to show my mum the way I was that night? The answer would be no.”

The court heard the on board CCTV system in the carriage didn’t show everything that night including the moment he is said to have touched her leg prompting the woman to move seats.

But Mr Bryning said having viewed the footage that was available and which showed him looking back through the gap at the woman and talking to her, it didn’t “look sexual” to him.

Prosecutor Peter Grice said in cross examination ”You are not able to say whether you touched her leg or not are you?"

Mr Bryning replied: “No I am not.“

He went on “It seems unlikely and would be massively out of character.”

The prosecutor put it to Mr Bryning that despite his claims that he was so drunk he had no memory of the events, he had still managed to find his way from the pub back to Euston Station, find his train, board it and make his way through the carriages to the front.

“All these things require conscious thought, don’t they?” said the barrister.

Mr Bryning replied “I was able to do these things.”

Mr Grice “You are with it enough to know where you are aiming for.”

Mr Bryning replied “I expect so. It’s something I always do.”

Asked if he had been sexually attracted to the woman, Mr Bryning replied “I think it’s unlikely.”

He said he couldn’t give any explanation as to why the woman had moved seats.

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