Marine denies 'groping' student at Exeter University ball

Thomas Telford Image copyright Irving of Exeter
Image caption Thomas Telford denied touching the woman "in a sexual way" at the Exeter University ball

A Royal Marine groped a student who was having her photo taken at a university graduation ball, a court was told.

Thomas Telford, 23, allegedly put his hand on the woman's abdomen and slid it towards her crotch whilst she was posing for a photograph.

Mr Telford, of Golf Road, Kenley, Surrey, denies one count of sexual assault, Exeter Crown Court heard.

The 21-year-old student was celebrating her graduation in July last year when the incident is said to have happened.

The court heard the woman was too shocked to say anything at the time, but one of her friends confronted Mr Telford shortly after and he was thrown out of the ball by security staff.

Brian Fitzherbert, prosecuting, said: "Thomas Telford sexually assaulted a young woman on the dance floor at the Exeter University graduation ball. In simple terms, he groped her."

Mr Telford was based at the nearby Commando Training Centre at Lympstone, Exmouth, when he attended the ball. He is now stationed at Faslane in Scotland.

'Not drunk'

He had been invited to the ball by another guest and is thought to have been with a separate group of people on the same dance floor.

The woman told the jury that she had been drinking alcohol before and during the night, but was not "drunk".

She said: "I did not feel impaired in any way and was in control of myself, I was posing for a picture with my friend."

She added that she felt someone touch her, and turned around to see a male with his hand pulling away.

Telford was interviewed by the police and told officers he "had not touched her in a sexual way".

The trial continues.