THE Hampshire businessman and former chairman of governors at an infant school, who is accused of touching three girls, has admitted having a police caution for indecently assaulting one of them more than 20 years ago.

Robert Giddings, 54, insisted it had been an isolated incident. “Nothing like that had happened before and nothing like that has happened since,” he told jurors.

Asked by prosecutor Nicholas Tucker why he did it, Giddings replied: “I don’t know. It was a moment of stupidity. I didn’t get any sexual gratification from it. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed afterwards. I was ashamed at what I had done.”

Mr Tucker suggested: “A moment of madness?” Giddings replied, “Yes, sir. I was ashamed because I realised it was wrong and I shouldn’t have done it because of the effect it had on her.”

Mr Tucker asked what type of effect it might have had and Giddings answered: “Traumatised her."

After the matter came to light, Giddings said he went to the police station where he made a full and frank confession.

“The fallout was traumatic for all members of the family. My wife was very upset and tearful. I don’t recall her being angry. I said it wouldn’t happen again and I was confident in my mind it wouldn’t happen again. It had a profound effect on my conduct.”

Giddings, of Wayside Road, Ringwood, has denied four different counts of indecent assault which the prosecution claim reflect “multiple incidents” relating to three girls who are now adults.

The father of three was asked by defence counsel David Richards if he had assaulted any of them. He replied: “No, I haven’t at all.”

He told Southampton Crown Court his relationship with the three girls had been good. “I have never fallen out with any of them.”

Giddings said he did not know of any “burning grievance” they held against him.

Mr Tucker then asked: “Listening to them as you sat in the dock, you must have been asking yourself ‘why are they doing this’?”

He replied: “It has destroyed my wife’s and my family."

Giddings was a former chairman of Netley Marsh Infants School and of the village’s Parish Council – a post from which he resigned last February when he was questioned by the police.