FEAR and joy - the emotional extremes of a teenage groom.

ONE minute he faced a week's hard labour in Winchester Prison, the next he was a conditional free man - such was the unexpected fate of Williams Adams convicted of assaulting an acquaintance.

Elizabeth Osgood was on her way to cut furze on Selborne common when she saw the teenager standing at a farmyard gate who called her over. But instead of striking up a conversation, Adams, 17, swiftly pushed her through the gate, flung her on the ground and threw himself on top of her.

He then got off and despite her shocking ordeal, she did not say anything for four days, even though she saw a local farmer's cowman minutes later and that very evening attended a tea to which Adams had also been invited.

Jurors hearing the case at the Hampshire Winter Assizes of 1886 were told conflicting evidence.

The cowman Henry Bailey said the girl appeared to have been a consenting party and had urged Adams to write to her but that contrasted with the evidence of Pc Sharp who said the 14-year-old had made a complaint about Adams four days after the incident.

The delay caused the groom's barrister Mr Crofton to scorn: "She is not worthy of credence."

However, jurors deemed she was and Adams was jailed for a week with hard labour.

The judge, Mr Justice Fitzjames Stephen, had obviously pondered over the issue at lunch and following the recess recalled Adams to the dock.

"I think the better course now would not be to send you to prison," he said bounding him over in the sum of £20. "Behave yourself and you will hear no more of it."

Adams gleefully nodded and left court.