A 51-year-old offshore worker has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a young woman in a crowded pub.
Steven Bass had denied touching the 19-year-old during a night out at the Mid Brae Inn, saying he had no memory of the incident.
Sheriff Ian Cruickshank, however, found the evidence of the victim and another witness “entirely credible and reliable”. He fined Bass £750 and ordered him to comply with sex offender notification requirements for five years.
The victim, giving evidence to Lerwick Sheriff Court via video-link yesterday (Thursday), said she went to the pub with a group of friends one evening last year. She said she spent much of her time on the dancefloor, having only “three or four” drinks.
While on the dancefloor, she said she became aware of a man “staring” at her. Feeling “uncomfortable” she went to sit at a table near the bar.
“This guy must have walked behind me, I felt his hand go in between my legs,” she said.
The court heard she had been touched over her clothing on an intimate part of her body.
“I felt really, really uncomfortable,” she said. “I turned around and said ‘no’.”
At first, the victim said she was “shocked more than anything” but then became “more and more upset”. A friend, seeing she was upset, offered to take her home.
Defence agent Tommy Allan asked her about her “sobriety” and whether she might have been “mistaken” about what happened.
Mr Allan suggested Bass might have been trying to take her hand for a dance and brushed against her accidentally.
However the complainer insisted Bass’s hand had been “too far down” to be accidental.
The second witness, the victim’s friend who took her home, was also clear in her account.
As the designated driver, she had not been drinking, and was near to the victim when it happened.
“He put his hand up her dress and touched her in a private area,” the witness said.
Mr Allan again asked whether Bass might have been trying to talk to the victim or inviting her to dance. The witness refused to accept the possibility.
She said she was in “no doubt about it”.
“I watched a woman get sexually assaulted,” she said.
The court heard that Bass, of Newcombe Road, Bournemouth, had been working at Sullom Voe and staying at Sella Ness at the time of the assault.
He accepted he was the man shown on the pub’s CCTV footage close to the victim at the time of the assault.
Although he accepted the video showed “something had happened” he said it was “just not something I would do”.
Bass told the court he neither knew nor recognised the victim.
While admitting he had “quite a lot to drink”, Bass said he was “still coherent”.
He said he was “completely in shock” to learn about the allegation.
Bass said he lost his job and had been out of work for more than three months.
Sheriff Cruickshank said he found the victim “entirely credible and reliable” in her evidence.
The sheriff said the friend’s evidence also confirmed the account in “very strong terms”.
“She was not prepared to change her view or even countenance the possibility that this was accidental,” he said.
“She was quite clear that what she saw was a sexual assault.”
While the video was obscured at the moment of the assault, Sheriff Cruickshank said it did show that Bass had moved towards her.
He said that supported the Crown’s version of events and found Bass guilty.
People seeking support after a sexual assault can contact The Compass Centre on 01595 747174 or online at www.compasscentre.org.