Soham horse whisperer in court after court hears of conduct 'simply not acceptable in 2017'
A horse whisperer from Soham who "overstepped the mark" and behaved inappropriately towards a work experience student has been given a conditional discharge.
Sentencing 63-year-old Alan Coogan, Recorder Peter Guest, said he had invaded the victim’s personal space and had left her feeling upset and uncomfortable.
“There is no doubt that most young women would feel intimidated and frightened by a man of your years coming up close behind her, invading her personal space and touching her.”
“You must understand that conduct of this sort is simply not acceptable in 2017 and to some minds wouldn’t have been acceptable for many years in the past,” added the judge.
Coogan, of Hesse Road, Soham, denied sexually assaulting the woman in July last year but admitted a less serious offence of common assault which was accepted by the prosecution.
He was given an 18 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £250 costs.
Sally Hobson, prosecuting, told the court the student had been on a work experience placement at stables in Newmarket when Coogan visited the premises to deliver some oil.
During a conversation with the student Coogan offered to take her to an equine hospital and in his van he had made it clear he fancied her and made her feel uncomfortable, said Miss Hobson.
Later he put his hands on her head after telling her he was a horse whisperer and that he could tell if she was ill by massaging her head.
He had also offered to show her how to touch a horse to see if it was ill and while he was doing this he had made her feel so uncomfortable that she asked him to stop.
The student was crying and upset when she went home and the police were contacted.
Siobhan Molloy for Coogan said her client was a horse whisperer and a saddle maker and had worked in the horse racing industry for four decades.
She said Coogan’s wife of 46 years had died several months before the incident.
She said Coogan was upset and embarrassed by what had happened.
“He put his hand on top of hers - he was too close and she didn’t like it,” said Miss Molloy.