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Sammy Nelson: Ex-Northern Ireland soccer player denies sex assault

Former Northern Ireland international footballer Sammy Nelson is accused of assaulting a pensioner on a bus 
Press Association Reporter

A FORMER Northern Ireland international footballer and Arsenal star groped a pensioner on a bus after a boozy afternoon watching football, a court has heard.

Samuel Nelson, known as Sammy, is accused of grabbing the woman between the legs on the evening of October 28 last year.

The 69-year-old faces one count of sexual assault for the alleged incident on the packed park-and-ride bus from Brighton City Centre.

Nelson, who now lives in Hove, allegedly asked the woman, who is in her 70s, whether she and her friends were on their way "back to the nursing home".

He then joked that the man he was with, his son Peter, was his carer and started chatting to the group about his career as a football player.

Giving evidence from behind a screen, the complainant told Brighton Magistrates' Court she had been returning from a Beethoven concert at the Dome when she was allegedly assaulted.

She said Nelson was "extremely smartly dressed - he had a trench coat on and really shiny shoes".

She claims the former footballer groped her after they had been making small talk for a few minutes.

"All of a sudden this hand came down between my legs with some force around my pubic and vaginal area," she said.

"I was absolutely shocked and really angry and I said 'If you do that again I will give you such a slap'.

"About 10 minutes later he did exactly the same thing again - I asked him to move away from me as he was invading my personal space."

She continued: "I was shocked and really, really angry that I was just standing on a bus and I was coming home from a lovely concert and this happened to me."

The complainant added that Nelson had also commented on the length of two other passengers' skirts.

"Two young women were getting on our bus and he said something about the length of their skirts and they they should lengthen them in his presence - I said that women can wear what they want," she said.

The court was shown a clip of the bus ride during which Nelson apparently picks up the woman's hand and either kisses it or presses it to his face.

He then apparently nudges her with his elbow.

The complainant insisted that she had not held hands or even touched Nelson before the alleged assault.

"I do not remember him taking my hand.

"I would not hold hands with a stranger, I do move my hands about when I talk," she said.

Emily Baxter, for Nelson, said: "I suggest Mr Nelson is getting jokey and silly and some of some of that is physical horseplay."

She suggested that Nelson had touched her hip and not her vagina.

The complainant replied: "I say he absolutely did not touch my hip and he put his hands with some force down between my legs on my pubic and vaginal area - he didn't only touch my hip."

Neither of the complainant's two companions noticed the alleged assault, the court heard.

The complainant denied only reporting the incident to the police after googling Nelson and his former career.

Roger Booth, prosecuting, said: "The prosecution say there's no doubt this is a sexual assault.

"The defendant put his hand between this lady's legs and her vaginal area and got a pretty robust response from her, he then does it a second time."

He added: "No doubt any inhibitions were loosened by drink."

When he was interviewed by police, Nelson accepted that it was him on the bus but said he could not really remember the incident.

Belfast-born Nelson joined Arsenal at just 16 and turned professional at the age of 17.

He notched up 338 appearances for the Gunners and played in all three of their successive FA Cup finals between 1978 and 1980.

Nelson is ranked as Arsenal's 35th best player.

He also bagged 51 international caps for Northern Ireland, including two during the 1982 World Cup.

In the early 80s he spent two seasons with Brighton and Hove Albion before retiring from the sport and moving into business.

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