A police officer from Birmingham has told a jury that he had “no sexual intention” towards a woman he is accused of assaulting in south Belfast.
Martin Asantaempaduh said that due to his profession as an officer with West Midlands police, his main concern for the woman in question was to get her a taxi home – not to attack her.
Denying anything sexual occurred between him and the woman, the 50-year-old father of two said there was “no way” he tampered with her clothing, saying “I didn’t touch her.”
The woman claimed that after she was ejected by door staff from the Eglantine Inn in the early hours of August 5, 2012, she came into contact with Asantaempaduh as she crossed the Malone Road. She claimed Asantaempaduh said he was an undercover police officer, showed her his badge and asked if he could walk with her.
The north Belfast woman said she then walked down Windsor Park with Asantaempaduh, who pushed her into bushes then straddled her as she lay on the ground. Giving evidence earlier this week, she also said she thought she was going to be raped, before fleeing to a nearby filling station.
Asantaempaduh, whose address was given as c/o West Midlands police, denies both sexually assaulting the woman, and assaulting her occasioning actual bodily harm.
Her version of events was completely refuted by Asantaempaduh.
At Belfast Crown Court, Asantaempaduh told the jury: “In the police, I work on an operation where we protect women on the streets of Birmingham, where we make sure they get home.
“The first thing we do is to make sure they get to a taxi – and these were my only thoughts.”
Asantaempaduh explained he was in Northern Ireland dealing with a family matter, and that August 2012 was his first time in Belfast. He booked into the Queen’s Elms for a night and had planned to fly back to Birmingham the following morning.
He had two pints of Guinness and two bottles of Budweiser in the Botanic Inn, before leaving the pub to walk the short distance back to the Elms.
He told the jury that as he was walking along the Malone Road, he was approached by the woman. Asantaempaduh said: “She handed me her phone. She said she was having an argument with her friends and she wanted me to read her texts.”
Asantaempaduh said that as they walked along the road, the woman said she wanted a kebab and a taxi home. He said she asked about his accent, and when he opened his wallet with a view to giving her money for a taxi, she saw his police identification.
He also made the case that after seeing the lights of a taxi down a street, he walked towards the street in the hope of getting her a taxi.
The street in question was Windsor Park, which is where the woman alleges she was attacked by Asantaempaduh.
Denying these allegations, the accused said: “She embraced me, gave me a kiss and walked off towards the taxi.” Saying he thought the kiss was a ‘thank you’, he said he then walked towards a white van as he needed to urinate.
He told the court: “I went to urinate and stood on the pavement’s edge, near to bushes. The next thing that happened was that I was grabbed and without even looking, I just pushed away. I thought I was being attacked, so I just pushed out.”
He then realised it was the woman he had pushed, and she was lying unconscious on the ground.
Asantaempaduh said: “I was horrified when I saw her on the floor and she wasn’t moving. She was on her back.
“I knelt down and shook her shoulders to try and wake her. She didn’t wake at first but then she came to and just went absolutely ballistic. She said I tried to touch her. She was screaming at me and saying all kinds of things.
“I just wanted to make sure she was ok, but she was having none of it. She looked like she was going to take my head off, so I walked away from her.”
Asantaempaduh was arrested a short time later. When he was asked by his barrister why he didn’t give that version of events to police straight away, he replied: “I have never been in a situation like this in my life.”