A millionaire entrepreneur sexually assaulted a young woman as they stood outside a prestigious Knightsbridge private members’ club, a court heard.
Peter Bonham Christie, 39, is accused of grabbing the woman’s crotch during a drinks event at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, when she went outside with a friend for a cigarette.
Isleworth crown court heard the woman – then in her mid-20s – pushed Bonham Christie away and was left “shocked” and speechless by the incident in November 2018.
Bonham Christie allegedly apologised when confronted by the woman’s friend, and the following day said he needed help contacting her to “get out of a hole”, it is said.
Bonham Christie, a champion powerboat racer who set the British water speed record in 2012, sold his water cooler company for more than £1 million and is now a dealer in luxury and classic cars.
When questioned by police, the businessman said he had been at an auction house dinner and to Claridge’s that night, before taking a client to the 245-year-old Royal Thames Yacht club where he is a member.
“While she was standing outside the club having a cigarette, Mr Bonham Christie came up to her, put his hand between her legs and he grabbed her crotch”, said prosecutor Emma Smith.
“Mr Bonham Christie denies that he touched her in that way, and so it’s a straight-forward issue of fact.”
She told jurors: “The scene is the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge, a private members club and it has all the usual facilities offered by such exclusive clubs – meeting rooms, accommodation, restaurant, bar – for use by members and their guests.”
Bonham Christie is accused of following the woman and her friend when they went outside to smoke, walking up to the woman and sexually assaulting her.
“She pushed him off but didn’t say anything because she was so shocked by what just happened”, said Ms Smith.
She said the friend asked Bonham Christie “what are you doing?”, allegedly prompting an apology though not directed at the woman.
“He will also tell you how the following morning he received a call from this defendant”, added Ms Smith.
“He (Bonham Christie) apologised and said ‘you’ve got to get me out of a hole’, asking for (the woman’s) phone number.”
The incident was reported to the club and then passed to the police in March 2019.
When questioned by police Bonham Christie said he had made a speech at a Bonham auction house dinner that night, before taking a client to Claridge’s in Mayfair and then on to the yacht club.
He recalled going outside to speak to the male friend of the woman to complain about comments made to his client about cocaine use, saying they had a “friendly argument”.
Bonham Christie, from Lymington in Hampshire, denies sexual assault. The trial continues.