Sgt cleared of sexual assault

PUBLISHED: 15:04 22 November 2006 | UPDATED: 09:59 31 May 2010

AN INCIDENT at a Saffron Walden pub in which a young woman was slapped on the bottom three times led to an army sergeant appearing in the dock at Chelmsford Crown Court. Martin Underwood, 32, of Rowney Avenue, Wimbish, denied charges of sexual assault and

AN INCIDENT at a Saffron Walden pub in which a young woman was slapped on the bottom three times led to an army sergeant appearing in the dock at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Martin Underwood, 32, of Rowney Avenue, Wimbish, denied charges of sexual assault and common assault on the woman.

After considering the evidence at the end of the three-day trial the jury cleared Underwood of both offences and he was discharged on Friday.

Jacqueline Carey, prosecuting, said on November 11 last year the woman went out drinking with two female fiends to various pubs in Saffron Walden and ended up at The Cross Keys. They met up with the defendant and began chatting.

Underwood seemed keen to talk about sexual matters and while they were chatting he slapped the complainant on the bottom extremely hard. She tried to laugh it off as a joke.

Ten minutes later he slapped her again and she swiped his hand away saying: "That f****** hurt."

Miss Carey said a few minutes later Underwood slapped the woman across the bottom a third time. She swiped his hand away very forcefully and he grasped her by the throat and said: "If you hit me again I'll throw you across the bar", it was alleged.

When the woman went home she discovered she had a mark across her bottom five inches long and two inches wide and reported the incident to the police.

Underwood was arrested and interviewed and admitted slapping the woman's bottom three times but said that it was playful banter.

Underwood said too much alcohol had been drunk and the woman had "blown things out of proportion". He denied grabbing the woman by the throat and threatening to throw her across the pub.

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