A MAN accused of sexually assaulting a woman in the street and punching another man “reacted after being taunted”, a court heard.

Thomas Cooper, 25 of Rayleigh Road, Leigh is standing trial at Basildon Crown Court accused of assault and sexual assault.

It is alleged he grabbed and forcibly kissed a women and put a man in a headlock in Leigh on Christmas Day 2019.

Yesterday, defence barrister Anthony Abel said the man and woman provoked Cooper with a series of “low blow” comments.

Speaking to the jury he said: “It turned ugly and in her anger she decided to land a low blow and said you are scum I wish you were dead.

“He is mentally fragile and he was vulnerable and this part is very important and is key to this case.

“She was spiteful and that’s the trigger for Cooper to punch the man, and he says the woman was trying to push him away.

“There is no independent or physical evidence of the kiss and no DNA from Cooper on the woman.

“She says the kiss was about 30 seconds and his hands were either side of her face but the man says the kiss was two to three seconds and his hands were on her upper arms.”

Mr Abel said the pair have “two very different accounts” and claimed they could have been conferring about what happened.


It is alleged Cooper drove alongside the man and woman before getting out of the car, following them and shouting abuse at the pair as they walked to work. .

The prosecution claim Cooper wouldn’t listen when they said they would be late for work.

Mr Abel added: “The woman did not want the police involved and the man called the police about 45 to 50 minutes later, they tried to put their heads together and came up with different accounts that’s how you can tell if someone is telling the truth.

“It doesn’t add up.

“I saw looking over the evidence you cannot be sure these accounts are not made up.

“He accepts he was drunk but he remembers what he did.

“It was self defence for the common assault.

“He’s a man of good character and has worked in the same job for four years.”

The trial continues