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Charlie Elphicke: Former Conservative MP to be sentenced for three sexual assaults

Mrs Elphicke announced the end of her 25-year marriage on Twitter as she sat in a taxi leaving court less than an hour after the verdicts were returned.

She broke the news to Elphicke and their young son earlier, and later said she found the court ordeal “horrible, humiliating”.

The victims

The court heard how the first offence took place when Elphicke invited a woman in her early 30s to share a drink with him while his children were asleep and his wife was up country with work – the first time she had been away since the birth of their son.

The woman said Elphicke asked her about bondage and sex, then kissed her and groped her breast before chasing her around his home.

Breaking down in court, she told jurors: “I was just shocked – really, really shocked.

“He was saying really bizarre things that are embarrassing, like ‘I’m a naughty Tory’. He was trying to grope me and trying to grab my bum.”

Prosecutor Eloise Marshall QC, reading a statement from the first victim, said the effect of what Elphicke did “had a lasting impact”, and said she had a “significantly increased sense of caution” when coming into contact with men.

She said: “The logical part of my brain is telling me to be polite to them but the emotional side is making me stressed.”

Ms Marshall said: “Even to the extent that when the (police) officers came to take an account from her, she found it difficult to be alone with them. She says she avoided being alone with men in general.”

The statement added: “It took me a long time to get back on my feet (following the assault).”

Concluding with her thoughts on the verdict, the woman said: “I feel heard. Thank you.”

* * *

The second complainant said Elphicke also tried to kiss her and then groped her when they met for a drink in Westminster in April 2016.

He then told her: “I’m so naughty sometimes.”

The victim said: “He had his mouth open, continually trying to kiss me. It was like a disgusting, slobbery mess.”

She said she spurned Elphicke’s sexual advances, telling jurors she was physically repulsed by him, and that Elphicke told her he had “not been happy for years” in his marriage.

She said he assaulted her again the following month when he ran his hand up her thigh towards her groin.

She said in her impact statement: “I still remember how he made me feel, I still know those feelings of fear and helplessness.

“I do believe as a result of what happened, it changed how I perceived myself. Because of his acts, he stole a large part of my self-worth and self-esteem. My inner scars will always be there.”

Elphicke said he kissed the first victim because he initially felt it was something they both wanted.

Elphicke ‘besotted’ with second victim

Elphicke told jurors he was “besotted” with the second complainant – a former Parliamentary worker in her 20s.

The court heard Elphicke initially denied any knowledge of the allegations against the woman when he was summoned before Tory party whips in January 2017.

He later called on his “friend”, the former attorney general Dominic Grieve, to accompany him to a second meeting, although he failed to mention to Mr Grieve that he had strong feelings for the woman.

Elphicke also admitted lying to police about the same issue, banking on him not being prosecuted and therefore being able to keep it from his wife.

‘Descent into total disgrace’

Elphicke became a government whip under David Cameron’s premiership in 2015, but returned to the back benches when Theresa May came to power the following year.

He had the party whip suspended in 2017 when allegations of sexual assault first emerged, but it was controversially reinstated a year later for a crucial confidence vote in then-prime minister Mrs May.

The whip was withdrawn again the following summer when the Crown Prosecution Service announced its decision to charge Elphicke.

At Elphicke’s sentencing hearing, Ian Winter QC, defending him, urged the judge not to jail his client and said he was now the primary carer for his teenage son.

He told the judge: “Shortly, Mr Elphicke’s descent into total disgrace will be complete.

“He has lost his wife, his daughter of 20 years is estranged from him as a direct result of his conviction, and his son, aged 13, has received sustained and quite vicious bullying at his school.”

He said the boy was taunted by people calling his father “a rapist”, prompting him to “collapse academically”, and he is “extremely psychologically vulnerable”.

Mr Winter added of his client: “A lesson has been fully and completely learned.”

He said the pre-sentence report found that the risk of re-offending was “extremely low”.

Mr Winter said: “I can assure you on his behalf that it will never happen again. When one steps back and looks at the man you are sentencing today, you do have somebody who is essentially a good man.”

He said there were 34 character witnesses supporting Charlie Elphicke, including “serving Members of Parliament”, but did not disclose their names.

A statement from Mrs Elphicke described how one of the “green shoots” of the circumstances was his improved bond with his 13-year-old son, saying they enjoyed activities such as gardening, baking, sailing, chess and Scrabble.

Defending, Ian Winter said how Mrs Elphicke praised her estranged husband’s “careful and gentle way” of helping their son.

Mr Winter said of the son: “He’s been cut off from people he thought were his friends… he has suffered in an academic way.”

Mr Winter said the Elphickes’ daughter, now 20, no longer spoke to her family.

He added: “She was heading to Oxbridge but she can’t because her grades were so poor.”

Article source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/09/15/charlie-elphicke-former-conservative-mp-sentenced-three-sexual/

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