Sunderland club steward behind bars after groping women

Crown Court
Crown Court

A Sunderland club steward who groped two women then claimed his outrageous behaviour as just "banter" has been put behind bars.

David Owens was in charge at the Mill View Social Club in Sunderland when he sexually assaulted two victims.

The 56-year-old had claimed there was an atmosphere of playful "banter" and said his victims had tried to "ruin his life" with the accusations.

Prosecutor Anne Richardson told Newcastle Crown Court: "He accused them of trying to ruin his life."

On the day he was due to be tried by a jury, Owens pleaded guilty to three charges of sexual assault and has now been jailed for two years.

Judge Neil Davey told him: "I do not accept the suggestion you could have thought it was banter.

"What was going on, in my judgement, is you simply felt entitled to behave as you did."

The court heard both women were left sickened by their ordeals.

Owens, of Holylake Square, Hylton Lane, Sunderland, has since been dismissed from the club for unrelated matters.

Tony Hawks, defending, said Owens has now accepted total responsibility for what he did to his victims, is sorry and wants to publicly apologise.

Mr Hawks said Owens' guilty plea saved both women from having to relive their ordeals from the witness box.

He added: "They did not have to go into a public court and describe the squalid behaviour by the defendant."

The court heard Owens has already and will continue to suffer for his behaviour.

Mr Hawks said: "He has lost his job, his health has deteriorated, he has disgraced himself in his own family and in his own community.

"He will have the humiliation of being on the sex offenders register and will be a pariah in his own community.

"It is behaviour that will not be repeated. This is never going to happen again."

Owens must sign the sex offenders register for ten years.