AN assertiveness course student is suing Cleveland Police after being arrested for an indecent assault which he says took place while he was at a lecture.

Gerard Heinz Kowald was arrested a month after the indecent assault in September 1994 and, when he was interviewed by police officers at Stockton, he claims he told them he had been at an evening class.

The following month, when Mr Kowald attended the police station for an identity parade, he took a letter from Stockton and Billingham Technical College confirming that he had been on a confidence building and assertiveness course, between 6pm and 8pm on the day of the incident, a jury at Teesside County Court heard.

David Gripton, for Mr Kowald, told the court that the indecent assault occurred at the Castle Eden Walkway, at 7.40pm.

Mr Kowald, of Thornaby, is suing Cleveland Police for damages for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. Cleveland Police denies the allegations.

Mr Gripton told the jury that a solicitor's representative had attended at the police station with Mr Kowald for the identity parade.

He said: "She saw the police officers not being interested in the proffered evidence. They were just not prepared to countenance it. Why?"

Mr Kowald, who suffered from schizophrenia, said that at the police station he felt under pressure, but did his best to cooperate with the officers.

Mr Kowald was charged with indecent assault after three witnesses picked him out of the identity parade.

The charge was dropped when it came to trial at Teesside Crown Court, in May 1995, after Mr Kowald's solicitors served the Crown Prosecution Service with all the evidence about his whereabouts at the time of the assault.

But Mr Kowald said that in 1998, on an evening out, he was approached by people who were hostile towards him.

He told the court: "I tried to explain that I was entirely innocent, but they were not in the mood to listen.

"I believe this incident indicates that, even though it has been some years, I am still regarded as a pervert, and that my name has effectively been blackened for the rest of my life."

The case continues.