Former Northern Ireland and Arsenal footballer denies groping pensioner on bus

Former Northern Ireland and Arsenal footballer denies groping pensioner on bus

A FORMER Northern Ireland and Arsenal footballer has denied allegations that he groped an elderly woman on a park-and-ride bus in Brighton.

69-year-old Sammy Nelson is accused of grabbing the woman between the legs on the evening of October 28 last year after being out drinking in the town.

He appeared in court today facing one count of sexual assault for the alleged incident.

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 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.