Vicar found guilty of groping male passenger on British Airways transatlantic flight could be imprisoned

Rev. Peter McConnell, pictured at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday, could go to jail for groping a passenger on a BA flight

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Rev. Peter McConnell, pictured at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday, could go to jail for groping a passenger on a BA flight

A pastor could go to jail after being found guilty of groping a sleeping passenger on a British Airways flight.

Rev. Peter McConnell abused an American PhD student on a transatlantic flight in 2017 – after making & # 39; sleazy comments & # 39; about sexual acts, a court heard.

During the trip from Philadelphia to London Heathrow, the 64-year-old pastor drank up to 10 small bottles of wine and asked the victim if he had hung & # 39; hung & # 39 ;.

He then spoke about God and asked his victim, 23, for forgiveness after the sex attack.

Today a jury found him guilty of sexual assault after four hours of deliberation at Newcastle Crown Court.

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The pastor, who had been in America to visit his sister, had denied the accusation and claimed that he was talking about & # 39; attentiveness & # 39 ;, not a sexual act that began with the same letter.

After the verdict, public prosecutor Andrew Espley said the former Northumbria police chaplain had left his post with the armed forces in 2014.

The pastor must now sign the register of sex offenders and will be sentenced next month.

He received conditional bail by Judge Paul Sloan QC.

Mr. Espley had told jury members that the vicar was drinking & # 39; heavily drunk & # 39; had and sat down next to the student because a child had kicked in the back of his own chair.

The court heard that McConnell, who was traveling with his godchild, was trying to talk to the stranger, which the student & # 39; strange & # 39; found.

Mr. Espley continued: & McConnell said that his godchild had really gotten drunk in South Carolina and had been to a cafe.

McConnell, who was in court on Monday with his wife Joy, was found guilty today
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McConnell, who was in court on Monday with his wife Joy, was found guilty today

McConnell, who was in court on Monday with his wife Joy, was found guilty today

& # 39; He asked the complainant if he had ever been to a cafe. He said he hadn't done that and felt uncomfortable with the conversation.

& # 39; It was a strange thing, you might think that someone would say to a stranger during a flight, but not as strange as what he was going to say, talk about a sexual act at some point and say it was a way was to relive stress. & # 39;

The court heard that the student & # 39; a fictitious smile & # 39; had made what, according to prosecutors, was shame, and McConnell kept talking to him.

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When the student got tired, McConnell covered him with a blanket that the victim initially thought was friendly.

The pastor then sexually abused him after he fell asleep.

Mr. Espley said: “As he fell asleep, he felt Mr. McConnell's hand under the blanket, massaging his right knee, his thigh, his thigh, knee. That took 10 to 15 seconds.

& # 39; He said he fell asleep. He remembers awake, shocking, and when he did, he looked down and saw that McConnell's hand no longer touched his knee, thigh area and rubbed his groin, rubbing back and forth, over the top of his pants. & # 39;

The pastor sexually abused an American PhD student during a flight from Philadelphia to London Heathrow (file photo) in 2017

The pastor sexually abused an American PhD student during a flight from Philadelphia to London Heathrow (file photo) in 2017

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The pastor sexually abused an American PhD student during a flight from Philadelphia to London Heathrow (file photo) in 2017

The court heard that the student & # 39; started to cry & # 39; when he trusted his mother what had happened and warned the authorities.

From the witness box, the student said that he & # 39; startled, indignant and disturbed & # 39; was under the blanket after he was touched.

He added: & # 39; He always tried to talk to me and wanted to apologize. Wilde He wanted to shake my hand, started blaming the alcohol, said he was drunk and tried to forgive me. I said no.

& # 39; He kept trying to shake my hand, he tried to hug me twice, I pulled away. He tried to kiss the hair above my ear, which was very disturbing. & # 39;

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The student said that McConnell then began to deny that he had touched him.

He said he asked McConnell's contact details when the flight ended, and realized McConnell's appeal when he saw the word parsonage in the email address he had given him.

He then reported what had happened to the airline and the Church of England and the police became involved.

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