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Thorbjørn Olesen had 'no control of his body' when he grabbed woman's breast on BA flight

Ryder Cup winner Thorbjørn Olesen was acting as an 'automaton' and not in control of his body when he touched a female passenger's breast on a British Airways flight, a court has heard.

The Danish golfer, 31, claims he has no memory of his 'bizarre behaviour' on board the plane from Nashville to London after taking sleeping tablets left in his wash bag by partner Lauren Zafer.

Olesen claimed he would never have taken the Ambien pills after drinking alcohol on the BA flight if he had known it would end up wrecking his life and career, a London court heard on Wednesday.

Olesen was on the eight-hour flight with other professionals including England's Ian Poulter, 45, and Justin Rose, 41, following the World Golf Championships-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis. 

The golf star drank beer, red wine, vodka and champagne before grabbing a woman’s breast, pushing a member of the cabin crew and urinating on his first class seat on 29 July 2019, Aldersgate House Nightingale Court in London heard.

Olesen, of Chelsea, denies the three charges of sexual assault, assault by beating in relation to Ms White and being drunk aboard an aircraft. 

Thorbjørn Olesen (right), of Chelsea, west London, denies sexual assault, assault and being drunk on an aircraft on July 29, 2019, claiming he was not in control of himself at the time

The five-time European Tour winner ran around the cabin 'like a little boy', got trapped in the toilet, and became verbally abusive to cabin crew when challenged, the jury was told.

Witnesses said the sportsman pushed BA worker Sarah White, kissed cabin service director Graham Gee's hand before making the sign of the cross, and nuzzled his face into a woman's neck before grabbing her breast.

Olesen then cried before falling asleep, but later got up and urinated on fellow first-class passenger John Haggis's seat, the court has heard.

He said he had wanted to fall asleep immediately on the plane having played several big tournaments, including the Open, and had no memory of his behaviour after being served a glass of champagne before take-off.

Olesen, of Chelsea, west London, denies sexual assault, assault and being drunk on an aircraft on July 29, 2019, claiming he was not in control of himself at the time.

'His conduct was not voluntary, that is the essence of automatism,' his barrister Trevor Burke QC told the jury on Wednesday.

Mr Burke said Olesen took two melanin tablets, which he regularly used to tackle jet lag, along with two prescription-only Ambien/Zolpadine pills ordered from a 'dodgy website' by Ms Zafer, the mother of his child.

The court has heard the medication can cause side effects including memory loss, lack of co-ordination and sleepwalking, and Mr Burke said all of his client's actions were 'explainable, medically speaking'.

'He would never have knowingly taken them had he recognised even the remotest risk of his life being completely ruined,' he told jurors.

Danish golf star Thorbjørn Olesen drank beer, red wine, vodka and champagne before grabbing a woman’s breast, pushing a member of the cabin crew and urinating on his first class seat on 29 July 2019, Aldersgate House Nightingale Court in London heard

Mr Burke said Olesen's character was 'key' to the jury's verdicts and that they were trying a 'thoroughly decent man,' who would never have willingly risked his career, which 'is over' if he is found guilty.

'All this man has ever wanted to do was play golf, please let him play it again,' he added.

But prosecutor Max Hardy urged the jury to convict Olesen if they were sure he had some control at the time or found he was 'reckless' in taking the pills.

He said: 'Were those golfers letting their hair down after a very stressful period, including what some people consider the most important golf tournament of the year?'

He added: 'Is there a possibility of deliberate consumption of alcohol and pills for recreational purposes knowing that was not going to cause any trouble with doping rules?'  

‘It might be quite natural to feel sympathy for a man who has taken quite a substantial hit and is now starting a family with a young child.

‘But the evidence tells us very clearly that Mr Olesen did indeed touch those two women, and sexually touched one woman, and multiple witnesses have given evidence about the conduct they saw.

‘But it is not as simple as that. If he had some control, even if it was simply limited control, then he is guilty of touching those women.’

Mr Hardy claimed Olesen had some control of his actions because he was able to speak in fluent English, rather than his native Danish. 

Olesen was part of the European Ryder Cup team that beat the US in 2018 and had lucrative sponsorship deals with firms including Nike, BMW, Rolex and Titleist.

He was suspended following his arrest on landing at Heathrow Airport and has struggled on the European Tour since being reinstated, plummeting from 51st to 440th in the world rankings.

The trial continues.