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Newbury man cleared of sexual assault said it was 'horseplay and banter'

'It's just normal behaviour if you live on Skyllings, mate' – defendant to prosecutor

John Garvey


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A NEWBURY man has been cleared of carrying out a sex attack on a mother in front of her terrified children.

Reading Crown Court heard that 30-year-old Lee Alan Abery, of Skyllings, had burst into the woman’s home, seemingly high on drink or drugs, and grabbed her round the waist.

Moments earlier, jurors were told, he had picked up a child in the living room and hurled him on to the sofa, hurting another child who was sitting there.

John Carmichael, opening the prosecution case on Monday, August 21, said: “It was not play fighting.

“They did not consent to this.

“He knocked them all down, causing them to be frightened and hurt.”

He said the woman heard her youngest child screaming and, when she ran to investigate, Mr Abery tried to kiss her and touch her beneath her dressing gown while she struggled and protested, pinned to the fridge.

The woman sobbed as she alleged Mr Abery had attacked her a second time in front of the young children, reeking of alcohol and cat urine – a reference to the smell of the banned drug M-Cat, or mephedrone.

Mr Abery denied one charge of sexual assault and three counts of assault by beating concerning the children, all said to have been committed on a date in January.

Giving evidence from the witness box, he said the children were known to him and that he had merely been “play fighting” with them.

He accepted he had been drinking and that he had numerous previous convictions for shoplifting and other offences.

But he pointed out he had admitted them all “because those times I was guilty.”

He told jurors: “She was trying to say I’d been taking M-Cat because when you’re on that you smell of cat’s wee. I did use it years ago but I’ve given it up.”

Mr Abery insisted he had simply indulged in friendly horseplay and ‘banter’ with the woman, saying of the sexual assault charge: “I wouldn’t do that – that’s not me.”

Cross examining Mr Abery, Mr Carmichael asked: “You went barging in there like a bull in a china shop; you were on something and that’s why you were acting in such a violent, rambunctious way, isn’t it?”

Mr Abery replied: “It’s just normal behaviour if you live on Skyllings, mate.

“I did grab her bum in front of the children – it was a stupid move but nothing major. I don’t understand why she’s doing this to me.”

Mr Abery insisted he had left the house on good terms with the woman and the children.

The jury took just 46 minutes to find Mr Abery innocent of all the charges.