Exmouth man, 48, cleared of sex offences

An Exmouth man walked free from court on Thursday after being found not guilty of allegations he sexually assaulted two women.

Peter Avery, 48, of Travershes Close, had denied five counts of sexual assault at Exeter Crown Court.

The jury also found Mr Avery not guilty of an allegation he denied where a second woman said he exposed himself to her.

Mr Avery said the only time he had physical contact with the second woman was after she began crying following an argument with her boyfriend.

He said he had hugged her to comfort her and ‘may’ have kissed her forehead.

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The jury heard the woman admit the embrace was ‘calming and comforting’.

The court heard how a woman Mr Avery had known alleged he sexually assaulted her on more than 12 occasions.

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Mr Avery denied touching the woman other than an occasion he said was consensual in the summer of 2006, when the pair was driving back from Beer.

The jury heard Mr Avery say the woman had been ‘pestering’ him, asking to borrow a car for the weekend.

Mr Avery said the woman had ‘called his bluff’ after he told her to pull into a lay-by in return for letting her borrow the car.

After pulling in at Woodbury Common, Mr Avery followed the woman into nearby woods, the jury was told.

Mr Avery told the court: “She had been hassling all day about having this car for the weekend.

“She wouldn’t take no for an answer. I thought ‘I have got to do something to shut her up’. If I say something she’s not going to agree to, she will leave me alone.

“I said ‘find somewhere quiet where we can have five minutes alone together’. I was hoping she would think ‘I am not doing that’ and drive on and forget about it.

“She carried on driving, and we came onto the common and pulled in. She said ‘is this quiet enough for you?’ She proceeded to get out of the car and I followed her. I felt as though my bluff had been called. I started to feel awkward at that stage.”

The jury was told the pair kissed after walking into woodland and Mr Avery touched the woman’s breast before they returned to their vehicle.

Mr Avery said he had been caught in the ‘heat of the moment’, adding: “I felt flattered that she was prepared to do something like that. I thought she must think something of me. She had her arms around me. I felt her start to rub my back. I am thinking ‘hello, this is getting friendly’.

“I responded. I know I shouldn’t have done, but I did. Her hands were running up and down by back. She was kissing me and I was kissing her.

“I felt flattered as she was the one who instigated pulling in. I was in my 40s and this young girl wasn’t stopping any of my affections.

“She was giving me affection back. I am not saying she was ravishing me, but she was responding to kissing me.”

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