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Jogger denies groping teenage girl beside River Exe

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: April 01, 2014

Exeter Crown Court

Exeter Crown Court

A jogger has denied groping a teenaged girl who he met while walking his Rottweiler dog beside the River Exe in Exeter.

Fast food worker Ryan Willdigg says the stranger kissed him of her own volition and asked him for date after they sheltered from a rain squall together under her umbrella.

She was walking to meet friends at Trews Weir Bridge when she says she was attacked on a footbridge over a leat leading into the River Exe at the bottom of Salmon Pool Lane.

She told a jury at Exeter Crown Court that Willdigg kissed, and touched her as he lifted her up and pinned her against the metal parapet of the bridge.

She tried to send texts to friends asking for help as she struggled to push him away from her and was very upset after fleeing the scene and meeting her friends.

Willdigg, aged 19, of Ivy Close, Exeter, denies the sexual assault on the footpath behind Isca School in August 2012. He says the physical contact was fleeting and consensual.

Mr Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said:”The allegation in this case is the defendant was responsible for a sexual assault on a young lady out walking on a footpath behind Isca School near the River Exe.

“The woman did not know Willdigg and was understandably shocked and distressed. The young lady was 17 and walking to meet friends at Trews Weir Reach and was on the footpath behind the school.

“Willdigg was running with his dog and ran past her, going in the opposite direction. There was an exchange of smiles and the woman thought no more about it.

“A couple of minutes later he came running back and stopped and engaged her in conversation. She was reluctant to speak to a man she did not know but there was a conversation about names and ages.

“She had an umbrella with her and recalls he got behind her and tried to grab the umbrella and got behind her and grabbed her shoulders.

“She told him to get off but he shoved her back against the railings of the bridge and started to kiss her on the lips and put his hand down her top.

“He tried to put his hand into his trousers, telling her to touch him. Throughout this time she was saying no and shoving him back and making it perfectly obvious his actions were not wanted.

“He began to rub her but she managed to kick him in the genitals. He dropped her and she ran away from the area.”

He said the woman sent three texts to friends or family members in less than two minutes during the encounter. The first said ‘help’. The next said ‘a trying to rape me’. The last read ‘guy’.

Willdigg was arrested at the fast food restaurant where he worked but denied any assault.

He said the girl had started kissing him and asked for his number so she could meet him again. He said he turned back on his run because the path was muddy and closed, rather than to see the girl.

He said:”I was snogging some girl and she kissed me back and she said she wanted to meet up with me. I haven’t done anything wrong. I was out running and some girl kissed me and I went home.”

He said he had not put his hand inside her top, tried to put her hand into his trousers or rubbed against her and denied she had kicked him to make him stop.

He said:”It never happened.”

He said he had never kissed a girl before the incident, had not been attracted to the girl, and had no intention of seeing her again.

He said:”I hated it. I didn’t like it. I did not think she was attractive. She started the kissing after we had been kissing for a moment or two. After a while we both stopped and it was mutual.

“I did not try to touch her or pick her up and she never kicked me. If she had done that my dog would have bitten her because he is very protective.”

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