Woman '˜could have said no' to kiss in woods, court told

A court has heard a woman who is alleged to have been passionately kissed against her will by a filmmaker has the intellectual functioning of a seven-year-old.

Friday, 18th March 2016, 8:47 am
Updated Friday, 18th March 2016, 9:51 am
Preston Crown Court.

But expert witnesses described the woman as “a social butterfly” who is confident in familiar social situations.

Preston Crown Court heard the woman - who cannot be named for legal reasons - falls within the lowest percentile of the population intellectually and is assessed as having mild to moderate learning difficulties.

But despite needing round the clock support, the court heard she would be capable of refusing a kiss from 73-year-old local heritage filmmaker Christopher Abram.

Abram denies sexual activity with a person who lacks mental capacity after he was allegedly seen kissing the woman passionately in a car parked in secluded woodland.

Expert witness Dorothy Ojariki, who carried out an assessment of the woman’s social and psychological abilities, told the court the woman did not understand the social norms around sex.

But she told the court: “There are people with and without disability who appear not to understand the social norms and will engage in many of the behaviours that have been ascribed to this woman.”

Ms Ojariki said the woman was very “suggestible” and had good communication skills for a woman with her level of disability and enjoys an active social life.

On the day of the assessment she said the woman had a number of social plans and was able to tell her about a party she was attending that evening.

But during the assessment the woman raised the issue of the allegations against Abram, telling Ms Ojariki she had refused a kiss from the defendant.

Rosalind Emslie-Smith, defending, asked Ms Ojariki: “Do you think she has the ability to say no to something she doesn’t want?”

Ms Ojariki replied: “I do think she has the ability to say no. I think what the issue is here is that she is very suggestible.”

When asked what she meant by suggestible she replied: “If someone said something was wrong that you didn’t think was wrong at the time, you may take a different view of it, particularly if you trusted the person who told you it was wrong.”

Abram, from Carnforth, Lancs, claims the woman kissed him but he pushed her away, when he took her out to admire the view at Paint Mine Woods, Carnforth.

The case continues.