October 17, 2019 / 3:43 PM / a month ago

Gascoigne cleared of sexual assault charge

Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne leaves Teesside Crown Court in Middlesbrough, Britain - October 17, 2019 REUTERS/Scott Heppell

LONDON (Reuters) - Former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne wept in court on Thursday after being found not guilty of sexually assaulting a female passenger he kissed on a train without her consent.

The 52-year-old, a former Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Lazio player, was also cleared at Teesside Crown Court of an alternative charge of assault by beating and told he was free to go.

‘Gazza’ was arrested at Durham train station in northern England in August 2018 and later released while police investigated the incident. The court heard he had been drinking beer at the time.

He had denied sexual assault, saying he kissed a woman on the York to Newcastle train “to boost her confidence” after hearing a male passenger call her fat and ugly.

“I was not drunk, I was not forceful, I was not sexual,” the Guardian newspaper quoted him as telling the jury from the witness box.

Gascoigne, who has spent several spells in rehab battling alcohol and drug addiction, played 57 times for England between 1988 and 1998.

In a statement through his lawyer, Gascoigne said the last 12 months had been tough but he was “pleased the jury reached the right verdict.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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