A billionaire executive from a city tech company groped a female colleague after a drunken team-bonding session on a golf course, but was still allowed to keep his job.
Business development executive Michael Swain, 35, had been drinking heavily with his co-workers at an open bar at the ‘Swingers’ facility in central London.
He and the firm’s staff, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, continued to drink at a nearby pub where he launched his attack.
Swain stepped behind the woman, who was in her early 20s, put his hand between her legs and touched her behind, London’s Inner Crown Court heard yesterday.
But despite being witnessed by colleagues and reported by the victim to Human Resources, he was allowed to keep his job after apologizing in a disciplinary action. The case heard that he was considered a ‘high flyer’ who ‘brought large amounts of money into the company’.
Executive Michael Swain, 35, sexually assaulted his colleague after a crazy golf event in London
Swain, described as a “high-end traveler” who brought money to the company, was allowed to keep his job.
Meanwhile, Swain, from Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, fought the court case for four years,
But on Tuesday, after two hours of damning evidence, he changed his plea to guilty on one charge of sexual assault at the town pub.
Prosecutor Fer Chinner said his victim, who also cannot be identified, saw that Swain had touched her.
The lawyer added: ‘She felt someone grab her butt, coming from below and his hand was between her legs.
“She was in shock and said, ‘He just grabbed my butt.'” She was angry and was seen crying and went to the Ladies to calm down.
Swain had been drinking heavily with his co-workers at an open bar at Swingers’ in central London.
Swain stepped behind the woman, who was in her early 20s, put his hand between her legs and touched her bottom, London’s Inner Crown Court (pictured) heard yesterday.
When she reported Swain to her bosses the following Monday, he stayed with the company after apologizing during disciplinary proceedings.
Ms Chinner added: ‘Swain was known in the company for being a top performer, generating great revenue.
‘They had quarterly team building days and after an 11am presentation they had lunch and then went crazy golf at Swingers.
“There was an open bar there, funded by the company, and by all accounts, people were taking advantage and drinking quite a bit of alcohol.”
The company even had a beer tap in their office and enjoyed ‘Friday Shouts’ celebratory drinking sessions, congratulating staff on their achievements during the week.
Swain later told police that he had attended a charity function the night before the assault, followed by a trip to the casino, where he won £6,000, bought drinks for everyone and only slept for two hours that night.
They were drunk, all of them. They had all been drinking,” explained Ms Chinner.
‘This defendant asked the other woman, “Can I touch you inappropriately?” referring to the complainant and then told her: “She says I can’t touch you improperly.”
‘The complainant attributed this to being drunk and driven and did not feel any of it.
So he told her, ‘I’m going to take some cocaine’ and offered her some, but she refused.’
Around 17:30 a group of 15 went to the ‘Slug & Lettuce’ and continued to drink.
Ms Chinner said: “Swain was noted to be more drunk than the others and a colleague saw him grab another woman’s butt and when she walked away he apologized and backed off.”
Half an hour later, the complainant was chatting with her colleague Thomas Brook, when she felt Swain groping her from behind, the court heard.
“He got more drunk as the day went on,” Mr Brook said at the trial. ‘I could see him step back and his hand moving away from his behind.
“At first there was a shock factor.”
It was heard at trial that Swain was known as a “high flyer” who “brought vast amounts of money into the company”.
Brook agreed. ‘It’s known within the company who are the fastest-growing team members and who generated the biggest sales.’
Another colleague confronted Swain and said, “You just assaulted her,” and the defendant responded, “I’m sorry. I screwed up,” the jury was told.
The lawyer added: “When she returned from Ladies Swain she apologized and complained to Human Resources and during the disciplinary proceedings this defendant wrote her a letter of apology.”
‘He wrote that he had few recollections of the incident and was disappointed in himself.
“She was allowed to stay and the complainant was very uncomfortable that Swain did not appear to follow through on her apology and she tendered her resignation.”
Another colleague, David Igbinovia, told the jury: ‘I saw it with the hand. He definitely contacted the rear, the rear.
“She was mortified, absolutely shocked and so was I. I said, “Michael, what the hell are you doing?” We are family here. You just attacked her.
She went to the bathroom and she was crying at the time and he was like, “I’m sorry. I screwed up.”
“I was quite concerned to report this, with him being so high up in the company.”
Swain was questioned by police two weeks later and denied offering the girl cocaine. He also said that he was still drunk from the night before when he started drinking again.
“He accepted that he drunkenly groped her behind and that it wasn’t sexual,” Ms Chinner said.
After Swain, who is no longer with the company, changed his guilty plea, Judge Jane Rowley bailed him on until May 25 for sentencing, announcing: “I will consider all options, including jail time.”
There may be other options. We need to see why he behaved this way because there is nothing to suggest that he has done anything like this in the past.
“The whistleblower has waited months, years to present evidence because of the initial plea of not guilty and would appreciate a victim impact statement.”