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Short-sighted granddad who touched nurse's breast guilty of assault

Short-sighted grandfather, 76, who said he touched an NHS nurse’s breast because he was trying to read her name badge is found guilty of sexual assault

  • Near-sighted grandfather convicted of sexual assault for touching nurse’s breast
  • Andrew Sington, 76, who was not wearing glasses, dubbed Mr Magoo by lawyer
  • Widower said he was ‘just checking her name’, which she had already told him 
  • NHS Nurse in 40s was said to be in state of ‘shock and disbelief’ at being touched

A short-sighted grandfather is facing jail for sexual assault after he touched a nurse’s breast ‘whilst trying to read the name badge’ on her NHS uniform.

Widower Andrew Sington, 76, who was not wearing his glasses, was visiting a patient in hospital when he reached over and pulled at the woman’s fleece jacket.

During the manoevre in front of his partner, the patient they were visiting, and other hospital staff, Sington touched the nurse’s left breast and then said: ‘I am sorry I didn’t mean to touch your boob, I was just checking your name.’

The woman, who is in her 40s and who cannot be named, later reported the incident to senior colleagues and was said to be in a state of ‘shock and disbelief.’

Sington was convicted of sexual assault, an offence which carries a maximum ten years in jail, at Sefton magistrates court near Liverpool on Friday. 

A short-sighted grandfather is facing jail for sexual assault after he touched a nurse’s breast ‘whilst trying to read the name badge’ on her NHS uniform

The public school-educated pensioner was described by his lawyer as ‘eccentric’ and even compared to the 1950s cartoon character Mr Magoo, who gets into comic situations because of his near-sightedness, ‘rather than a sexual predator’.

The retired business consultant, who lives in Hale near Altrincham, Greater Manchester was said to be ‘absolutely horrified’ at being convicted and plans to appeal.

The incident, which was captured on hospital CCTV cameras, occurred on November 13 last year when Sington and his partner were visiting her daughter at a hospital near Liverpool. 

The court heard the victim came into a room where the three were sitting, introduced herself and Sington patted her arm.

‘I just dismissed that,’ she said, ‘Some people are quite tactile and I didn’t think anything of it. I just sat down and there was some general conversation. It was about 30 minutes into the visit when the patient was becoming quite restless and we decided to take her back to the ward.

‘We were standing, preparing to leave and close to the door and the patient’s mum was talking about when she would next visit. Mr Sington then put his arm across from the right and touched me on my left breast.

‘I had my NHS fleece on which had the NHS logo and rainbow motif on the left side. He pulled the fleece and made a comment such as ‘I am sorry, I didn’t mean to touch your boob, I was checking your name.’

‘My name was embroidered on the right side of my fleece in white, the NHS logo and rainbow were on the left. The name was clearly visible.

‘I was very shocked. I remember my colleague saying “Her name is on the other side. She has already told you what her name is.”

‘He touched it enough for me to feel it. It was a pull at the fleece as if trying to pull the fleece towards him but his hand was on my breast.

‘I just froze, I was shocked. It was the last thing I expected to happen.’

Widower Andrew Sington, 76, who was not wearing his glasses, was visiting a patient in hospital when he reached over and pulled at the woman’s fleece jacket

The nurse said that following the incident, the visitors said goodbye to the patient and that she spoke to the patient’s mother. She also had a recollection of Mr Sington touching her arm again as they left the room.

The nurse added: ‘I remember walking away back to the ward and thinking, “Did that really just happen? Have I really just been touched?” It took me a few minutes to process.

‘It was the way I was touched, it was the comment afterwards, “Sorry I didn’t touch your boob.” It was the way he said it.’

A colleague of the nurse told the hearing: ‘I clearly saw that he made a grab in the chest area then made a comment, “Have I touched your boob?”. 

‘He said that he was checking for a name and I said: “You already know her name because she introduced herself. The name is not on that part of her fleece.”

‘I could see that the nurse was awkward about what had happened and shocked so I felt that I had to intervene.’

In police interview Sington appeared flustered, and at one stage couldn’t remember the name of his own partner.

When asked what prompted him to say, ‘I did not touch your boob,’ he replied: ‘Because I looked and I couldn’t see her name. I moved the fleece so that I could see her name. I wanted to refer to her by name as it’s a polite thing to do. A person has a name and we should try to [use] their name. My biggest issue is remembering someone’s name.’

He told the court: ‘I wanted to address the female nurse. I had forgotten her name which is not unusual unfortunately. Therefore, I did make a glance to the right and saw that her colleague’s name was on his chest to the left. Therefore, I looked at the female nurse on the left.

‘There was something there, but I could not see what it was So, with my hand I moved the top of her fleece in order so that I could see her name. That’s when I was accused of touching her breast – but I didn’t touch her breast. I certainly touched her fleece which was loose in front of her.’

Sington said that the nurse had made no objection at the time and made no comments such as ‘get off me’ or ‘how dare you.’ 

When asked if he was surprised or shocked to learn of the allegation, he said he was ‘absolutely devastated’. 

Sington was convicted of sexual assault, an offence which carries a maximum ten years in jail, at Sefton magistrates court near Liverpool on Friday

He said that his attendance at the police station had been ‘horrible’ and had made him ill.

‘If I had been intent on fondling her, I would have used my left hand on her right chest,’ he added. 

‘But I did not. I wanted to move her fleece. I try to use people’s names as best as I can as its polite. I had forgotten her name and I thought the least embarrassing way was to look at her name tag.’

His lawyer Mike Braham said: ‘Mr Sington is a man of good character and is more of a Mr Magoo than a sexual predator. He has told the court that he was short sighted and was not wearing his spectacles. Clearly, he is a little eccentric.

‘The complainant was standing with her hands behind her back as Mr Sington looked for her name badge. Her head moved slightly low but she remains completely impassive and unflinching. They are hardly the actions of someone touched inappropriately.

‘Her colleague says he is sure it was inappropriate touching but at no stage does he try to make out where the name badge is. He stands quite still. At the end of the meeting the complainant remains with the defendant and his partner. Would someone who has been sexually assaulted be content to be left with her attacker? Would she not excuse herself and call for assistance?’

But Edward Rattigan prosecuting said: ‘He knew perfectly well what he was doing and was using the excuse of seeking her name badge as a cover for the sexual assault that he has committed.’

As the verdict was delivered, Sington shook his head and said: ‘I am absolutely horrified.’ 

But chairman of the bench Frank Dainty said they found the prosecution witnesses ‘credible, mutually supportive and consistent’ and added: ‘We have reviewed the CCTV footage and are satisfied the incident took place as described by the prosecution.’

The court adjourned for a probation report and Sington was told to appear for sentencing at Liverpool Magistrates Court on November 25. 

He has 21 days to lodge an appeal with the Crown Court.

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