United Kingdom

Busiinessman, 39, 'left woman distressed and shaking after he groped her between the legs'

A powerboating businessman left a woman distressed and shaking after groping her between the legs at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, a jury has heard today.

Millionaire Peter Bonham Christie, 39, is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in the early hours of the morning outside the Knightsbridge club.

Today a witness claimed Christie 'lunged,' at the woman while she was smoking outside and 'grabbed her literally in the crotch area'.

Christie denies one count of sexual assault.  

Peter Bonham Christie, 39, denies sexually assaulting a woman by allegedly grabbing her between the legs at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in November 2018

Giving evidence from his Cotswold home, club member Andrew Sutherland, 60, told Isleworth Crown Court he attended the club following a City banking function on November 30, 2018.

He said was outside smoking with the complainant when Bonham Christie emerged: 'I was about to introduce him and before I could he made his lunge to her.

'He turned around without any provocation, quite an aggressive move without any reason, I think with his left hand.

'I thought he was going to shake her hand, but grabbed her literally in the crotch area. I was quite shocked.

'She was visibly distressed and physically shaking after it. The shaking turned into tears then.

'After the initial shock I turned around to him and said: "What are you doing?" and he tried to apologise to me and I placed myself as a physical barrier between the two of them.

Speaking about the alleged incident outside the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge, witness Andrew Sutherland, 60, told the court Christie 'grabbed her literally in the crotch area. I was quite shocked'

'I have to assume he was quite drunk, it was so unexpected what he did. He seemed to apologise and he was doing it to me, not her.

'She was pretty shocked by the whole thing and was obviously distressed, physically shaking over it and crying.'

The woman then told Bonham Christie's girlfriend what happened. 'She was still shaking and increasingly angry about it and his girlfriend was quite shocked about it as well.'

Mr Sutherland called a taxi for the complainant and checked on her the next day. 

'I phoned her up to check she was okay. She was still very upset by it all,' he added.

'It's an embarrassing situation for a member of the club to do what he did.'

The witness also spoke to the defendant the next day. 'He specifically mentioned he had done something silly and I had to get him out of a significant hole.

'He asked me to provide him with her phone number so he could apologise and I told him it was not appropriate for me to give him the phone number.'

Mr Sutherland denied Bonham Christie's assertion both he and the complainant were 'very drunk' and that he was an associate of a social circle known as the 'drink and curry crowd.'

Denying he was a 'big drinker' the witness also denied telling one guest that night: 'Peter Bonham Christie is a good bloke, but takes too much cocaine.'

Mr Sutherland told Isleworth Crown Court the victim was 'visibly distressed and physically shaking after it. The shaking turned into tears'. Millionaire Christie, 39, denies one count of sexual assault

Bonham Christie's QC Felicity Gerry put to Mr Sutherland: 'He didn't lunge at her and did not grab her at all.

'What you say about him lunging at her is not true. Your recollection is mistaken because you were drunk and maybe you grabbed her Mr Sutherland?'

'That's ridiculous,' he replied.

'That's a complete fabrication,' said the witness. 'I have no animosity against Peter Bonham Christie at all. I am certainly not lying and I'm not mistaken.'

Bonham Christie, of Lymington, Hampshire, runs a company that specialises in the transportation of classic and luxury cars.

The former University of Portsmouth student is an old boy of £40,000 a-year Millfield School and a member of the 245 year-old exclusive private members-only Royal Thames Yacht Club.

Bath-born Bonham Christie, a self-styled entrepreneur, sold his first office water cooler company for over £1m, utilising water sourced on his family's Dorset property.

Bonham Christie represented GB in sailing and skiing, aged 13 years-old and once received an award from the Royal Yachting Association for breaking the offshore powerboat world speed record.

The trial continues.

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