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Reading Crown Court: Thatcham man denies sexually assaulting woman...in a police station

Alleged victim tells of her terror as panic button fails

John Garvey

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

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Court

A PRISONER in custody sexually assaulted a woman while he was under arrest in a police station, a jury has been told.

The terrified victim, alone in a room with the half-naked man, shouted “no, no no!” and pushed a ‘panic button’ – which initially failed to work – as her alleged attacker advanced on her, the court heard.

The defendant had already made two female police officers uncomfortable with sexual innuendos and by staring at their groins, jurors heard.

But he insisted all three women's accounts were simply untrue and had been fabricated against him.

In the dock for the opening of his trial at Reading Crown Court on Monday, November 16, was Christopher John Phipps, who lives at Westlands, Thatcham, and who denies the sexually-motivated attack.

Sheila Davis, prosecuting, said 38-year-old Mr Phipps had been arrested in connection with a completely unrelated matter and was being transported in a marked police van to Loddon Valley Police Station in Reading.

She added: “In the vehicle he was attended by two police officers, both female – perhaps not ideal, but that’s what happened.”

On the way, jurors heard, Mr Phipps began making suggestive remarks and Ms Davis added: “He was, in colloquial language, trying it on – seeing what reaction he’d get by staring fixedly at the genital area of the female officers and generally making offensive comments.”

But things took a more serious turn while the defendant was in custody at the police station, the court was told.

Ms Davis said Mr Phipps was left alone with a woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.

She added: “He began staring at her genital area... making comments under his breath.”

Giving evidence, the alleged victim said Mr Phipps had run his foot up her leg and added: “I walked backwards about one metre and told him to stop.”

Instead, the court heard, he said: “Go on, miss,” while indicating his crotch with his eyes.

She went on: “He told me to bend over and he would be ‘in and out’.

“There wasn’t anyone in the corridor... [he] walked towards me.

“At this point I was up against a wall and there wasn’t any exit for me... his arms were raised as he walked towards me.

“I hit the panic button – it didn’t initially work.

“Obviously I was pretty terrified at this point, but he saw me hit it and started to back away.”

The woman hit the button again – and this time it worked.

CCTV footage screened to the jury showed a stream of people, some in uniform and others in civilian clothes, running towards or into the room as the woman shouted “no, no, no”.

Mr Phipps, who was stripped to the waist upon entry to the station, is then brought out with his arms pinned behind his back.

He denies sexually assaulting the woman at Loddon Valley Police Station in Lower Earley on Wednesday, May 27.

Giving evidence under oath, Mr Phipps denied all three women's account, branding them "completely untrue" and fabricated.

He said he respected women in general and had no idea why the alleged victim had hit the panic button in the room.

Sophie Chaplin, defending, told the jury: "His defence isn't particularly elaborate. It is that he didn't touch [the alleged victim] in a sexual way.

"He has been known to the court for the past 20 years. He is someone who has had a drug habit. He is certainly not proud of that.

"But not one of his previous convictions are of a sexual nature. It's a central, narrow issue: was there any touching of a sexual nature?

"In my submission there's doubt in relation to that and the correct verdict would be 'not guilty'."

The jury was later dismissed to consider a verdict.

Keep checking in with Newburytoday.co.uk for the result.