A DEFENCE solicitor caused a courtroom storm after suggesting a woman who was indecently assaulted in a swimming baths would have “forgotten all about it in two or three days.”

The chairman of the Blackburn magistrates told Raj Chopra the comment was “shocking” and “offensive” and the prosecutor said it was a shame the victim was not present in court to respond to the suggestion.

Mr Chopra’s comment came as he was defending Mohammed Akhtar, 50, who had touched the woman on the buttock and thigh as she climbed down the ladder into the pool at Mercer Hall, Great Harwood.

He said the father of five was deeply ashamed and embarrassed by his appearance in court but said an application for him to be banned from any swimming baths where females were present would be “draconian.”

“He has been assessed by the probation service as being at low risk of further offending,” said Mr Chopra.

“It was a brief incident and these things are forgotten about in two or three days.”

After he had finished mitigating Enza Geldard, prosecuting, said; “It is a shame the victim isn’t in court to respond to the defence suggestion she would forget about it in two or three days.”

Passing sentence the chairman of the magistrates said the defendant’s behaviour was unacceptable.

“Mr Chopra’s comment about people forgetting about these offences in two or three days was shocking,” she said.

To Mr Chopra she said: “You made a comment which was offensive which the prosecution has already picked up on.”

Mr Chopra apologised for the comment.

Akhtar, 50, of Hartmann Street, Accrington, pleaded guilty to sexual assault on a female.

He was made subject to a community order for 12 months with 25 rehabilitation activity days and a nine month alcohol treatment condition and ordered to pay £150 compensation and £85 costs.

He was excluded from all swimming baths in Lancashire for 12 months and placed on the sex offender register for two years.