A MAN’S “judgement error” on being arrested over a groping allegation he was never charged with, has left him with a £1,750 court bill.

Self-employed plant-hire and scrap metal operator William Scott Armstrong has also had to meet his own legal costs since proceedings arose following the incident on a night out, in Durham, on July 29, last year.

Durham Crown Court heard police responding to a commotion outside Missoula in Walkergate were approached by a woman complaining of sexual assault, saying her bottom was grabbed by a man in the bar.

Jonathan Harley, prosecuting, said she pointed to a man in a blue check shirt claiming he was the culprit.

The officers approached Armstrong and told him he was being arrested on suspicion of sexual assault, but he protested his innocence and urged them to check cctv footage in the premises.

As he was being read the caution and his rights he continued to argue that he had done nothing wrong.

The officer told him they would view the cctv later, but before being able to complete the arrest, Armstrong ran off towards the city centre.

He was chased and detained on Milburngate Bridge five minutes later and this time went along with the arrest.

Mr Harley said no further action was taken over the alleged sexual assault, but Armstrong was charged with escaping lawful custody.

The 24-year-old defendant, of Meadowlands, Linton Collliery, Northumberland, previously denied the charge, but on the day of trial changed his plea to guilty.

Andrew Rutter, for Armstrong, told the court: “The thrust of his mitigation is that he was falsely accused of a serious offence and, having asked the officer to view the cctv which would have proved his innocence, the officer continued the arrest.

“He then panicked and left. We often hear of people who know they have committed an offence trying to escape justice, but this is far removed from that.

“It’s said hindsight is an exact science, but he regrets his loss of judgement, but insists it was because he felt he may be the victim of a miscarriage of justice for something he didn’t do.

“He’s a hard-working businessman and this has had a profound effect on him for the last nine months.”

Recorder Simon Kealey QC told Armstrong: “I have heard you regret doing what you did, and your error of judgement.

“I accept it wasn’t pre-planned, no violence was involved, and, it was only briefly successful.”

He fined Armstrong £500, ordered him to pay the £1,200 costs of the case, and a £50 statutory court surcharge.