Drunken beachgoer guilty of sexually assaulting teen on train

Anthony West was captured on CCTV aboard the Exmouth to Exeter train

Anthony West was captured on CCTV aboard the Exmouth to Exeter train - Credit: Devon & Cornwall Police

A drunken beachgoer has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy on the train home.

Anthony West was convicted of running a hand up and down the boy’s thigh while pinning him against the window of the Exmouth to Exeter train.

The young man was so upset that he slid out under the table to get away.

He was cleared of kissing a 15-year-old boy on the nose and a 14-year-old girl on the cheek by a jury at Exeter Crown Court after they studied CCTV and mobile phone footage of the incident.

The CCTV showed West laughing uproariously as he hugged different members of a group of teenagers who were also on their way home from a Sunday out at Exmouth on July 12, 2020.

The mobile phone footage included a brief excerpt shot from under the table which showed West touching the boy’s thigh, which was bare because he was wearing shorts.

West claimed not to be drunk but not to remember that part of the incident. He told the jury he had no sexual intent and was just engaging in ‘high spirited banter’ while singing Sweet Caroline with the teenagers.

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Both he and one of two adult friends he was with told the youngsters that he was the nephew of mass murderer Fred West, which led some to become alarmed. One boy said it ‘creeped him out’.

Another passenger was so alarmed when they saw him trying to kiss the 14-year-old girl that they fetched the train  manager, who advised the teenagers to alert the police.

West handed himself in after two images from the train CCTV were released to local media five days later.

The 53-year-old, of Okehampton Street, Exeter, denied sexually assaulting two boys and a girl during the train journey. He was found guilty of one and acquitted of the other two.

The judge adjourned sentence until May 9, ordered a probation report which will explore alternatives to custody, and released West on bail. West was ordered to sign on the sex offenders’ register pending sentence.

During a two day trial, Mr Paul Fairley, prosecuting, said West got on the 8.50 pm train with a male and a female friend and began touching the teenagers after singing with them.

He read statements from the three complainants which said they all thought it was funny until the large man, who they thought had been drinking, started touching them.

The girl said one of West’s friends told her that Fred West was his uncle, but it did not mean anything to her until they explained who Fred and Rose West were mass murderers.

She said: “One of the others who were with him said ‘do you know he is related to Fred and Rose West? They were his uncle and aunt and buried people under their porch'.

“I was worried because of what they said about Fred West. I said ‘no, no, no' to him. He put his arm over my shoulder and kissed the left side of my face. I was shocked.”

One of the other teens on the train said: “He told the girl his uncle was Fred West and said his uncle had killed some people. I felt creeped out.

“I felt sorry for the girl because she was young and defenceless with a grown-up man trying to kiss her, so I kicked him in the back of the leg. The woman who was with him told him to sit down before he got himself into any more trouble.”

Carpenter and father-of-two West, who has been a youth rugby coach for 22 years, told the jury he had only drunk three cans of lager and it was all high-spirited banter.

He said: “We were all having a laugh. It was a bit of banter. It was happy and jokey. The atmosphere on the train was high spirits. We were singing Sweet Caroline and laughing with them.

“There was no nasty intent. I had no sexual intent at all. It was all laughing and joking and mucking about on the train. I did not intend to kiss the boy. It was a fatherly kiss.

“He pulled away and laughed. I didn’t intend to kiss him on the lips or to sexually assault him. I don’t recall putting my hand on the other boy’s thigh but I would not have done it in a sexual way.”

He said he kissed the girl because her young friends were egging him on saying it was her turn. He said she had been laughing all the way through.