Barford man ordered to register as sex offender after making unwelcome advances

William Freeman.
William Freeman.

A Barford man who put his arm round a woman from behind and kissed the back of her head, neck and shoulder has been ordered to register as a sex offender.

But William Freeman will only have to register with the police for a year - after a judge at Warwick Crown Court gave him a conditional discharge for 12 months.

Freeman (58) of Church Street, Barford, had pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual assault, but changed his plea to guilty on the day of his trial.

Prosecutor Bernard Linnemann said that in August 2016 Freeman was talking to the woman, whom he knew, about a swarm of wasps she had seen on the roof of a building.

Thinking the wasps may have been building a nest, they were looking at them when, without warning, Freeman put his arm round her from behind.

He then kissed the startled woman to her shoulder, neck and the back of her head.

She pulled away from him, and he apologised for what he had done, said Mr Linnemann.

The woman later called the police after speaking to her sister and her partner about what had happened.

When Freeman, who was of previous good character, was arrested and interviewed, he denied committing any offence.

Mr Linnemann added that the incident has caused the woman a great deal of hardship, and she is undertaking counselling and having to ‘live a life of avoidance’ when she is out because she is worried about coming across Freeman.

But Judge Sylvia de Bertodano observed: “There has been no trouble in the intervening 18 months.”

Ann Cotcher QC, defending, said: “He is 58, and is in a close and loving relationship. It was an isolated incident in a character without blemish.”

Miss Cotcher said Freeman had ‘accepted the physical act in interview,’ but not the words it was alleged had accompanied that, and had found it difficult to face up to.

“It was an incident that lasted but a moment, and one he has regretted ever since. It is so unlikely anything like this will ever happen again.

“He is a very frightened man, a very nervous man. Just the waiting is punishment in itself. He has never even had a parking ticket before.”

Sentencing Freeman, Judge de Bertodano told him: “I am glad you have accepted today your responsibility for this, rather than putting this lady through a trial.

“It is difficult to know what to say to someone like you. I don’t know what was going through your mind, and I don’t suppose you do either. This was an impulsive act.

“You have had a very serious lesson taught to you – you do not make advances towards women who don’t want you to.

“I am not belittling what happened, but I do take into account that in the 18 months since this, there has been no trouble at all, and I am convinced there will be no trouble in the future.”