A HOSTESS in a first class rail carriage was branded 'stupid and wicked' by a former chief executive of an international company who was in court to defend a friend accused of sexual assault.

Arthur Wellings is alleged to have rubbed the woman's breasts while she was serving him and his friend, Neil Wagstaff, as they travelled home from Newcastle.

The pair, who used to work together for a specialist engineering firm, were returning from the city after meeting up with another former director of the company, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The 84-year-old is accused of sexually assaulting the woman, who was left upset by the alleged incident in September last year.

Mr Wagstaff branded the alleged victim 'stupid and wicked' for accusing his long-time friend and father-figure of the attack.

During a fractious exchange with prosecuting barrister, Robin Turton, the retired chief executive furiously denied Mr Wellings had done anything wrong during the incident and was shocked when his friend was arrested at Darlington Railway Station.

Mr Wagstaff accepted that the pair had been a 'bit loud' and had been told to 'pipe down' by a fellow passenger during the train journey but denied his friend had behaved inappropriately towards the woman.

During his evidence in chief, the witness said the alleged victim behaved like 'a Hollywood actress' in the way she reacted to Mr Wellings touching her arm as he attempted to get her attention.

"The woman made a dramatic 'oh' and pulled away," he said. "Arthur said 'I'm sorry, did I touch your tittie?' – I will never forget it.

"At the time I thought it was an Oscar-worthy performance – I thought no he didn't (touch her breast) but if he did it was by accident."

During cross examination, Mr Wagstaff clashed with Mr Turton on several occasions. He said: "I never in a million years expected this to come to court. I didn't know that she had made the claim that he had touched her breasts. We never heard anything, we thought she couldn't be that stupid, that wicked to make that claim against an 83-year-old man of such high moral standing."

A number of character references were read out in support of Mr Wellings, of Becket Drive, York, including one from Age UK in the city where the defendant volunteers.

In the prosecution's closing address, Mr Turton described the pair's behaviour as 'boorish' while they were on the train.

He said: "She (the victim) felt that Arthur Wellings was showing off to his younger friend. Arthur Wellings was not thinking about other people's feelings, just his own.

"This was the first time in 11 years that anything like this had happened to her."

Aisha Wadoodi's closing speech in Mr Wellings' defence reminded the jurors that her client was a man of good character and hit back at Mr Turton's allegation that the two friends had been acting in a rude or arrogant way during the journey.

The jury will go out today as the trial continues.