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Lady Lavinia Nourse, of Newmarket, wipes away tears in the dock as she denies sexually abusing a young boy in the 1980s




The widow of a Court of Appeal judge broke down in tears as she denied sexually abusing a young boy in the 1980s.

Lady Lavinia Nourse, of The Severals in Newmarket's Bury Road, was married to Sir Martin Nourse, who died in 2017 aged 85.

The 77-year-old told jurors at a nightingale court in the Knight's Chamber at Peterborough Cathedral, where she is on trial for historical sexual abuse, that she 'didn’t know what the hell was going on' when the boy accused her.

Lavinia Nourse, 77, of Newmarket who is on trial at a nightingale court in Peterborough
Lavinia Nourse, 77, of Newmarket who is on trial at a nightingale court in Peterborough

Asked by defence barrister Jonathan Caplan if she had ever sexually abused the boy, she said 'no, absolutely not', before breaking down in tears.

Lady Nourse said that the boy was 'very psychologically disturbed' at the time he accused her of abuse.

“I was just completely and utterly shocked and bewildered,” she said.

Lavinia Nourse arrives at Knights Chamber, Peterborough Cathedral, where she is charged with 17 counts of historical sexual abuse (Jacob King/PA) (47178920)
Lavinia Nourse arrives at Knights Chamber, Peterborough Cathedral, where she is charged with 17 counts of historical sexual abuse (Jacob King/PA) (47178920)

Lady Nourse said she agreed with defence counsel that in the past she had needed to seek treatment for depression.

“It was like a heavy cloud sitting over the top of me,” she said. “One just kept going. Depression is a difficult thing. You’re not very energetic. It’s not a good place to be.”

Asked if it was possible that, while she was unwell, the allegations were something she “might have done and forgotten about”, she replied: “No, not possible.”

Lady Lavinia Nourse is standing trial in the Knights Chamber at Peterborough Cathedral Visitor And Learning Centre (Jacob King/ PA) (47179153)
Lady Lavinia Nourse is standing trial in the Knights Chamber at Peterborough Cathedral Visitor And Learning Centre (Jacob King/ PA) (47179153)

Lady Nourse said that she received therapy for depression at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.

She later returned to work in public relations where she organised premieres for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express and Phantom Of The Opera, she said, and added that she also helped organise the Queen’s 60th birthday celebrations.

Mr Caplan asked if, during the period when she was depressed, there was an 'incident of shoplifting'.

She replied yes, and agreed with the barrister that it did not lead to any criminal convictions in court.

In a transcript of her police interview under caution that was read to the court, Lady Nourse said the boy “could have had a fixation about me”.

Asked by a detective if she bought the boy a Penthouse magazine with Madonna on the front cover, she replied: “I don’t remember buying him that magazine.”

Lady Nourse denies 17 counts of sexually abusing a boy under the age of 12.

All of the charges relate to the same male complainant and are five counts of indecently assaulting a boy and 12 counts of indecency with a child.

The trial continues.

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