Judge’s widow wipes away tears as she denies historical sex abuse charges

·2-min read

The widow of a Court of Appeal judge wiped away tears as she denied sexually abusing a young boy in the 1980s.

Lady Lavinia Nourse was married to Sir Martin Nourse, who died in 2017 aged 85.

The 77-year-old told jurors at Peterborough’s Nightingale court, where she is on trial for historical sexual abuse, that she “didn’t know what the hell was going on” when the boy accused her.

Asked by defence barrister Jonathan Caplan QC if she had ever sexually abused the boy, she said “no, absolutely not”, before breaking down in tears.

Lady Lavinia Nourse
Lady Lavinia Nourse denies all charges (Jacob King/PA)

She said that the boy was “very psychologically disturbed” at the time he accused her of abuse.

“I was just completely and utterly shocked and bewildered,” said Lady Lavinia, of Newmarket, Suffolk.

She agreed with defence counsel that in the past she had needed to seek treatment for depression.

“It was like a heavy cloud sitting over the top of me,” she said.

“One just kept going. Depression is a difficult thing.

“You’re not very energetic. It’s not a good place to be.”

Asked if it was possible that, while she was unwell, the allegations were something she “might have done and forgotten about”, she replied: “No, not possible.”

Nightingale court
A general view of the Nightingale court in Peterborough (Jacob King/PA)

Lady Lavinia said that she received therapy for depression at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

She later returned to work in public relations where she organised premieres for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express and Phantom Of The Opera, she said, adding that she also helped organise the Queen’s 60th birthday celebrations.

Mr Caplan asked if, during the period when she was depressed, there was an “incident of shoplifting”.

She replied “yes”, and agreed with the barrister that it did not lead to any criminal convictions in court.

In a transcript of her police interview under caution that was read to the court, Lady Lavinia said the boy “could have had a fixation about me”.

Asked by a detective if she bought the boy a Penthouse magazine with Madonna on the front cover, she replied: “I don’t remember buying him that magazine.”

The defendant denies 17 counts of sexually abusing a boy under the age of 12.

All of the charges relate to the same male complainant and are five counts of indecently assaulting a boy and 12 counts of indecency with a child.

The trial continues.