Ex-director of Northampton ski club ordered to register as a sex offender for kissing friend on shoulder, neck and head

The Justice Centre in Leamington, home to Warwick Crown Court.
The Justice Centre in Leamington, home to Warwick Crown Court.

An ex-company director has been ordered to register as a sex offender - for putting his arm around a female friend and kissing her on the shoulder.

William Freeman, 58, was talking to the woman about a swarm of wasps she had seen on the roof of a building when he made a pass at her.

A court heard the woman turned to look up at the nest when Freeman put his arm around her.

Freeman, a former director of Northampton Water Ski Club, then kissed the startled woman on her shoulder, neck and the back of her head.

A court heard the woman pulled away from him, and he apologised for what he had done.

The woman reported the incident, which took place in August 2016, to police and Freeman was arrested.

Freeman, of Barford, Warwick, originally denied a charge of sexual assault, but changed his plea to guilty on the first day of his trial.

He was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to sign as a sex offender at Warwick Crown Court on Wednesday (March 7).

Judge Sylvia de Bertodano said: "There has been no trouble in the intervening 18 months.

"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."

Prosecutor Bernard Linnemann said the woman called the police after speaking to her sister and her partner about what had happened on August 2016.

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.

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.

"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."