Yes, m'lud, my eyes were open, but I was fast asleep when I groped her
UK millionaire blames booze for not remembering stroke-and-squeeze incident, or desperately fleeing the station
A millionaire businessman “repeatedly” stroked and squeezed a young woman on a packed London Underground carriage in a “deliberately sexual way”, a court has heard.
James Froomberg, 62, a former director for City of London police and National Lottery commissioner, is accused of pressing himself up against his alleged victim for “a couple of minutes” before getting off the train and attempting to avoid apprehension.
A fellow passenger is said to have told him: “I have seen what you’re doing and it’s disgusting.”
Froomberg claims he was asleep during the brief train journey and only awoke when the train pulled into Mile End station, where he got off.
His lawyer, James McCrindell, told the jury at Blackfriars Crown Court that he could not recall the alleged incident but conceded it was possible that, having had too much to drink, he may have “tried to catch onto something”.
He claimed that if so, it was “only the one soft stroke” and a mistake.
The young woman and her boyfriend boarded the Central Line train at Holborn on Tuesday May 1 at about 5pm.
Terence Woods, prosecuting, said: “Somewhere between Liverpool Street and Mile End she had the sense that someone was very close to her right-hand side, slightly behind, and she felt something against her bum.
“She thought it was someone’s bag at first, so to begin with she tried to move away but as she moved as much as she could, whatever it was that was against her moved with her and she quickly realised that her bum was being touched by someone.”
He added: “This was not an act perpetrated by someone in there sleep. He was standing up; his eyes were open.”
The woman told jurors: “I tried to move and then I felt that someone was still touching me and it felt deliberate, it was making me uncomfortable.
“It was sort of stroking me, just repeatedly running his hand over me. I felt the hand squeeze me at one point.
“There wasn’t really much space to move because it was quite packed.”
‘He tried to get out of the station’
Her boyfriend described how he chased Froomberg through the station as he tried to alert Transport for London (TfL) staff.
“The train door opened and we ushered the gentleman off the train, no force but just my hand on his back,” he said.
“Mr Froomberg just walked away calmly to try and get past us. He kept walking even though the TfL member was requesting him to stop.
“I followed the TfL member who followed him up to the gate area where he was stopped by another staff member.
“It was at that point that he bolted and tried to get out of the station. I caught up with him about 10 yards to the right outside.
“He was trying to push me out of the way, was very intent on trying to get away.
“But by using his collar and sleeve I was able to hold him in place. I then spent about 15 minutes with him in the street until the transport police arrived.”
‘We are talking about a soft squeeze’
Froomberg claimed he could not remember anything after leaving the pub that afternoon, until he woke up at Mile End station.
McCrindell told jurors it was “something that happened very quickly”.
“We are talking about a soft squeeze, we are not talking about something that happened again and again and again.”
Cambridge-educated Froomberg, from Edgware, north London, declined to answer questions when interviewed by police. He denies sexual assault.
The businessman was a National Lottery commissioner for five years from 2008 and is a former trustee of the Young Enterprise, a financial education charity.
He was a director for British Waterways and Wembley plc, a partner at KPMG and a former director of performance and innovation for the City of London police.
– © The Daily Telegraph