A PUB chef has been cleared of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl on a train between Exeter and Okehampton after telling a jury that she consented to kissing and touching.

Tommy Tizard was studying catering part-time at Exeter College while working at an hotel near Crediton when he met the girl in Exeter and they agreed to take the same train.

She alleged he had made unwanted sexual contact which started as they were waiting for the train and continued after they sat together on a back seat of a carriage.

She told Exeter Crown Court that he had held her by the throat while kissing her forcibly and had put a hand on her breast.

Tizard, aged 20, of Victoria Street, Okehampton, denied four counts of sexual assault and was found not guilty by a jury in less than an hour. The acquittal means that Tizard is free to follow his ambition of joining the army, which offered him a place in the Royal Tank Regiment which was conditional on him not being convicted.

Miss Nikki Coombe, prosecuting, said the incident happened on January 11 last year when the girl was 17 and Tizard was 18 and a catering student at Exeter College. He met the girl, who he knew through mutual friends, in Exeter after he finished college and they agreed that they would take the same train home. Her boyfriend had taken an earlier train but she had to wait for the next one..

The jury were told that Tizard squeezed the girl’s breast over her clothing on the platform and went on to hold her neck in his hand, kiss her, and touch her breast while on the train. She said it made her feel uncomfortable and she kept telling him she had a boyfriend.

They got off the train together and she said Tizard kissed her again as they waited for the girl’s father to pick her up. She did not tell anyone at the time but had felt ‘disgusted and grossed out’.

She eventually told her family who contacted British Transport Police who managed to recover limited CCTV from the platform but not the train.

Tizard told the police that the girl had been a willing participant and at one point told him she had been waiting for a long time for someone to kiss her in the way he had.

He told the jury that she had kissed him and put her arms around him on the platform and continued on the train without saying or doing anything to make him think she was not enjoying it.

“I put my hand on her breast inside her clothing. Before I did that, I asked if it was okay and said if she had a problem, I would stop. She smiled and nodded. Every time I asked her she said she was okay. She never said no.”