When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Judge’s mercy for disgraced lawyer keeps adoption dream alive
Happily married to a high-flying solicitor, all Owen Ross’s wife now wanted was a child.
But, after 20 years of marriage, her hopes of going through an adoption seemed shattered when her lawyer husband disgraced himself in a pub.
The 41-year-old indecently touched a woman in a pub – an offence that could have put him on the sex offenders’ register and wrecked the couple’s dream for adopting.
If the sentence gone over 12 months, Ross would have found himself on the register, scuppering any hope of the couple becoming parents, Southampton Crown Court heard.
But when he appeared at Southampton Crown Court a judge showed him mercy so as not to punish his wife.
He branded Ross “foolish” and told him he had escaped a more severe penalty “by the skin of your teeth” in handing him a 10-month community sentence for indecently touching his victim over her clothes.
Ross had been found guilty by a jury of one charge of sexual assault following a trial in August this year.
Prosecutor Philip Meredith told how on February 2, Ross had spent the afternoon drinking and watching rugby when he saw the woman, who he had met previously, with her friend.
The court was told how she was annoyed because he had flirted with her on a previous occasion and she had since become aware that he was married.
But in an “extremely foolish and ill-judged” move he then put his arm around her and briefly put his hand between her legs, leaving her feeling insulted and aggrieved, the court heard.
Judge Peter Ralls QC described the incident as “insulting behaviour towards a young woman who did not deserve to be treated like that” but said that contact had been “fleeting” and lasted just a couple of seconds.
He told Ross he had thrown his career, family life and potential to adopt a child into jeopardy by his actions. He acknowledged that he had since taken the decision to quit his job to spare colleagues and managing partners from further embarrassment and shame.
But sentencing him, Judge Ralls said he had decided to take “an exceptional course” in the hope Ross could continue with his career, but most importantly so as not to punish his wife of 20 years.
The court heard how his wife had longed for the chance to be a mum; however the couple’s ongoing plan to adopt a child would be ended if Ross were placed on the register.
Ross, of Channel Way, Southampton, was also given a six-month community supervision order, ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and told to pay costs of £2,800 as well as victim surcharge.
Comments are closed on this article.