Man kissed and touched teens on train, court told
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A train passenger allegedly kissed or touched three teenagers as they returned home from a day out on Exmouth beach.
Anthony West was caught on CCTV moving around the carriage of the 8.50pm train and sitting down next to a group of 14- and 15-year-olds.
He was filmed as he sang Sweet Caroline while holding a can of alcohol in one hand before he began touching the youngsters.
He is alleged to have cornered a 14-year-old boy in a window seat and run his hand up and down his thigh, which was bare because he was wearing shorts.
He held another boy’s face in his hands and leaned forward to kiss him, but the boy pulled away from him and he ended up kissing his nose.
West then cuddled a 14-year-old girl and kissed her on the cheek before friends who were with him intervened and told him to sit down, Exeter Crown Court was told.
One of the teenagers filmed part of the incident on his mobile phone and another alerted the police. West was traced after an image was released to local media.
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The phone footage showed West to be a large man with a pot belly who was wearing an England rugby top.
West, 53, of Okehampton St, Exeter, denies sexually assaulting two boys and a girl during the train journey. He says his actions were ‘jubilant banter’ and he had no sexual intent.
Paul Fairley, prosecuting, said West got on the train at Exmouth on the evening of Sunday, July 7, 2020, with a man and a woman and started touching the teenager 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.
One boy said he had to crawl away under a table to get away from him as he was pinned up against a window and felt a hand touching his thigh.
The second boy said he pulled away because he thought West was trying to kiss his lips. The girl said she became alarmed when one of West’s friends told him he was related to serial killer Fred West.
The boy who filmed the incident said he felt ‘creeped out’ and felt bad for the girl because she was ‘young and defenceless, with a grown up trying to kiss her’.
West told police it was all high-spirited banter and said he apologised if he had ‘stepped over the mark’.
He said: “We were all having a laugh. It was a bit of banter; the girl was laughing her head off. I said it was her turn for a cuddle and she laughed.
“It was jubilant, I remember kissing her forehead or cheek. We were having a laugh and a joke and a singalong. It got out of hand. I never intended to do anything nasty.”
The trial continues.