Morecambe filmmaker guilty of sex charge

Christopher Abram.

Christopher Abram.

A filmmaker has been found guilty of sexual activity with a woman who has the mental age of a five-year-old.

Christopher Abram, 74, was seen passionately kissing the victim in his car in secluded woodland near Carnforth.

Abram said the charge was “preposterous” but a jury found him guilty unanimously after a six-day trial at Preston Crown Court.

The jury heard how the pair were disturbed by groundsman Trevor Wright - who believed he was going to have to deal with deerstalkers on his land - and whistled to let them know he was there.

Abram, a retired sound engineer who in recent years has made several heritage films about the Morecambe area, told the court he had been taking the woman to admire the view of a copper smelting chimney from local beauty spot Jenny Brown’s Point when the car hit a rock as they drove across a field at Paint Mine Woods near Warton.

He said the loud bang had startled the woman and she had started flapping her hands, so he stopped his Rover ZT car and gave her a hug to help calm her down.

However the jury rejected his explanation and found him guilty of sexual activity with a person who lacks mental capacity, after Mr Wright said he was certain he had witnessed a passionate kiss.

Due to her disabilities, which placed the woman within the lowest percentile of intellect among the general population and among the lowest within the learning disabled community, the woman was not called to give evidence.

However expert witnesses said her level of understanding was between that of a five year old and a seven year old.

One said she would have had no sexual understanding and would not have understood where a passionate kiss could lead, or when to say no.

Summing up the trial, Recorder John Jones QC said: “The prosecution says in conclusion that this is a defendant who took advantage of a young woman with a mental impairment and is now lying.

“The defence says that this was an effort to calm her down when she planted a kiss on his lips.”

Abram will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on May 13.