Carnforth filmmaker ‘sexual activity’ trial begins

Preston Crown Court.
Preston Crown Court.

A local heritage filmmaker ‘took advantage’ of a woman with learning difficulties when he kissed her in a remote rural location, a court was told.

Richard Christopher Abram, 73, denies the kiss was sexual when he was spotted in a car with her in secluded woodland.

But a groundsman who was clearing the wood in preparation for a clay pigeon shoot told the court that when he whistled at them, Abram threw his hands up in horror and drove away quickly.

Preston Crown Court heard the woman has a mental age of around 10 years old and would not have understood what a passionate kiss would lead to.

Abram, of Carnforth, Lancs, denies sexual activity with a person who lacks mental capacity.

Groundsman Trevor Wright, 47, told the court he saw a car driving across a field at Paint Mine Woods, Warton, as he opened up his cabin at around 1.30pm on July 23 last year.

Thinking he would have to warn off deerstalkers, he jumped on his quad bike and went to investigate.

But as he approached the car - which was parked with its engine switched off - he realised there was a couple kissing passionately in the vehicle.

He told the court: “When I approached the wall I was going to meet a burly deerstalker in a camouflaged jacket I had a bit of a chuckle to myself, thinking I’d come across a couple of lovers.

“I whistled to get them to clear off. I got the gentleman’s attention but not the female’s straight away.

“When I whistled the man looked across and saw me across the wall. He was in shock, horror, his arms went up.

“He was muttering something. He was extremely shocked to see someone there. He started his engine to drive off.

“I didn’t really attract the female’s attention until they were driving away. Even at that point I thought it was two lovers or two people meeting.

“I’d not seen the female’s face at all, but as they drove away she turned and looked out of the side window, straight at me.

“As soon as I saw her I could see she had a learning disability of some sort.

“She wasn’t shocked at all to see me. Her mouth was wide open, basically.

“I was in a bit of shock, horror. I wasn’t expecting it at all to be honest.

“I could see when I saw their faces he was a lot older.

“I just found it extremely strange.”

Mr Wright noted the vehicle’s registration plate and informed the police about what he had seen.

Abram was questioned the following day and told officers he had a young mistress with a speech impediment and gave a different name to the woman he is alleged to have been in the car with.

He said he had met her the previous day at the promenade in Morecambe following a heritage meeting.

Abram claimed she had asked him to go for a drink and they had gone to a pub in Warton.

But when police made enquiries at the pub they discovered CCTV and identified the woman who was seen with Abram in the car.

He later admitted he had lied to protect his marriage.

Abram denies the allegation and claims Mr Wright misinterpreted what he had seen. But Mr Wright insisted: “It was a passionate kiss; a snog, if you will.”

The case continues and the defence is expected later this week.