Lady Lavinia Nourse: Ex-judge's widow 'shocked' by abuse accusations

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Lady Lavinia NourseImage source,
Image caption,
Lady Lavinia Nourse was married to Sir Martin Nourse, who died in 2017, aged 85

The widow of a Court of Appeal judge accused of sexual abuse of a boy in the 1980s has told a court she was "completely and utterly shocked" when she was accused.

Lady Lavinia Nourse, 77, of Newmarket in Suffolk, was married to Sir Martin Nourse, who died in 2017, aged 85.

She denies 17 counts of sexually abusing a boy under the age of 12.

She told Peterborough's Nightingale court she had "absolutely not" sexually abused the boy.

Lady Nourse is on trial at the court in the Knight's Chamber at the city's cathedral where she denies five counts of indecently assaulting a boy and 12 counts of indecency with a child, all related to the same complainant.

Asked by defence barrister Jonathan Caplan QC if she had ever sexually abused the boy, she said "no, absolutely not", before breaking down in tears.

She also told jurors that she "didn't know what the hell was going on" when the boy accused her and that the boy was "very psychologically disturbed" at the time of the accusations.

"I was just completely and utterly shocked and bewildered," she said.

Lady Nourse also told the court her accuser had wanted money from her.

Mr Caplan asked her why she had used the word "blackmail" when the boy confronted her as an adult.

She said the complainant was "making demands of me" and that "it seemed like it was to do with money".

The man "wanted anything [he] could get, I think", she said, adding he was "obviously after money".

"I wasn't in a position to give money away," she said.

Image source, Jacob King/PA Media
Image caption,
Lady Nourse claims the alleged abuse did not occur, the court has heard

The court also heard that Lady Nourse had sought treatment for depression in the past which she said was "like a heavy cloud sitting over the top of me".

But she said the suggestion that the allegations were something she "might have done and forgotten about" while she was unwell was "not possible".

Mr Caplan asked if, during the period when she was depressed, there was an "incident of shoplifting".

She replied "yes", and agreed with the barrister that it did not lead to any criminal convictions in court.

Jurors earlier heard that Lady Nourse was voluntarily interviewed about allegations of historical sexual abuse at Parkside police station in Cambridge in January 2019 with a solicitor present.

In a transcript of her police interview under caution that was read to the court, she said the alleged abuse "simply never happened".

The court had previously heard that the boy "tried to bury away the memories" of alleged abuse but that, years later, after getting married and having children, he "became increasingly troubled by his recollection".

The trial continues.

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