United Kingdom

Olesen ’embarrassed’ after assault claim

Thorbjorn Olesen is a five-time European Tour winner

Ryder Cup winner Thorbjorn Olesen says he was “embarrassed and felt horrible” after being accused of drunkenly sexually assaulting a woman on a British Airways flight in 2019.

Olesen has denied sexually assaulting a woman, assault by beating of a second woman and being drunk on an aircraft.

The Danish golfer, 31, gave evidence at Aldersgate House Nightingale Court in London on Tuesday.

He said he would never “consciously” risk his career by committing a crime.

He added he has no memory of the flight after taking sleeping pills.

The court heard on Monday that Olesen had “grabbed and rubbed the breast” of a woman, swore at members of the cabin crew and “urinated” over another passenger and in the aisle.

When asked by his barrister, Trevor Burke QC, about the allegations, Olesen said: “I felt absolutely horrible and I was very sorry. I could not believe what they were saying happened.

“I was just embarrassed and felt horrible.”

Olesen had been competing at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis before boarding a flight from Nashville to Heathrow on 29 July 2019.

He told the court he had not slept well for weeks after playing several big tournaments and planned to go straight to sleep on the plane.

He said he drank two beers, two glasses of red wine and one vodka and cranberry juice before boarding the flight.

He also took two Ambien sleeping pills that were put in his washbag by his partner, Lauren Zafer.

Olesen said he “felt fine” boarding the plane and that his last memory was “getting a glass of champagne and sitting down in my seat and I think I remember taking off”.

He denied remembering groping a woman, being abusive to cabin crew and urinating on a passenger’s seat.

Olesen also said he could not recall asking for another drink or drinking from another passenger’s glass.

He added he would “never” have taken the sleeping pills if he knew they were prescription-only or that possible side-effects include “sleep walking” and “amnesia”.

Olesen, of Chelsea, west London, said his partner later told him she had vacuumed their entire house and eaten Christmas chocolates without remembering after taking the pills for insomnia.

Zafer told the court that Olesen looked “like the world had just ended” and “slightly confused” after he was released by police.

“My stomach turned inside out because I knew how they must’ve been the Ambien and how strong they were, and I felt immense guilt,” she said.

“It was all my fault that this happened.”

When questioned by prosecutor Max Hardy, Olesen denied he was “in a party mood” and said he had “definitely not” taken the pills with alcohol “for fun”.

“I wanted to try to sleep all the way to London,” he said.

The court was also told a passenger reported they heard mention of anti-anxiety drug Xanax during a conversation between Olesen and fellow golfer Ian Poulter, who has said in a statement he did not give Olesen any pills.

When asked by Hardy if he had taken more pills on the flight, Olesen said, “I don’t remember, I don’t know” and also denied he was drunk.

The trial continues.

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