A newlywed city trader allegedly groped a sleeping student for up to two hours on a plane back from his honeymoon, a court heard today (August 31).
Robert Van Den Bergh, 37, was travelling back from Hawaii to Heathrow when the alleged incident occurred, with his wife travelling back on a separate flight with a friend.
He is accused of touching the woman's thighs while she was asleep under a blanket. Isleworth Crown Court also heard he joked that the two sleeping pills the student had taken could make her unconscious.
The alleged touching occurred between December 31, 2019 and January 1, 2020. Van Den Bergh from Hackney, London denies sexual assault.
The court heard how the woman woke up to find the power and coal analyst touching her as his movements grew "stronger and more deliberate".
She was said to have placed a pillow between herself and Van Den Bergh and asked United Airlines cabin crew if she could be moved when he went to use the toilet an hour-and-a-half later.
She said while giving evidence: "I felt his fingers grazing my left thigh. I was unsure whether it was intentional or not.
"At first [the touching] was light and unnoticeable but it gradually grew in confidence and after two hours I knew that it was intentional.
"'I just was very scared and I didn't know what to do in the situation. I was just full of fear.
"I wanted to get out of my seat and that's when I looked at his face.
"I saw that his body was angled towards me and his eyes were closed. He turned so that his torso was facing me."
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Van Den Bergh was arrested upon the plane's arrival in London, jurors were told.
He claims that he spoke with his accuser and another female passenger beside him but "didn't sense any tension".
He told police: "You try to keep a distance, but it is quite difficult in Economy.
"I can confirm that I would never do that. I've never done anything remotely like that. I would be very surprised of anything of that order of magnitude."
The trial continues.
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