Ryder Cup winner Thorbjørn Olesen cried in court and said he wanted to focus on his golf after being cleared of sexually assaulting a woman on a British Airways flight.
The 31-year-old Dane claimed he had become an ‘automaton’ and had no control over his body after taking prescription sleeping pills purchased from a ‘dodgy website’ by his partner Lauren Zafer.
Olesen was on the eight-hour flight from Nashville to London with other professional players, including Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, following the World Golf Championships-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis.
A court trial at Aldersgate House Nightingale in central London found he had drunk beer, red wine, vodka and champagne before take off. The five-time European Tour winner ran around the cabin ‘like a little boy’, got stuck in the toilet and became verbally abusive towards cabin crew when pulled over, he said. we tell the jury.
Witnesses said the sportsman pushed BA employee Sarah White, kissed cabin service manager Graham Gee’s hand before making the sign of the cross and buried his face in a woman’s neck before him grab the chest. Olesen then cried before falling asleep, but then got up and urinated in the seat of another First Class passenger, John Haggis.
Giving evidence, he said he wanted to fall asleep directly on the plane after playing several big tournaments, including the Open. He said he took two melanin tablets, which he used regularly to fight jet lag, as well as two Ambien / Zolpidem tablets left in his toiletry bag by Zafer, the mother of his child. He said he had no recollection of his behavior after being given a glass of champagne before take off and the court heard that the drug could cause side effects, including amnesia, loss of coordination and sleepwalking .
His lawyer, Trevor Burke QC, defended the automation, telling jurors: “His conduct was not voluntary.
Witnesses of character, including his parents, his high school sweetheart, caddy Dominic Bott and fellow Danish professional golfer Lucas Bjerregaard have expressed their “shock” at the allegations, which have been described as “totally irrelevant”.
Olesen, from Chelsea in west London, was acquitted on Wednesday of sexual assault, assault and drunkenness on a plane on July 29, 2019, after the jury deliberated for less than an hour in the outcome of a three-day trial.
He cried and hugged his partner after being cleared and said in a statement: ‘I would like to apologize with all my heart to everyone on board the Memphis-London flight on July 29, 2019 who was affected by my behavior.
“I don’t remember anything that happened after take-off, but I am embarrassed and ashamed of the account of my actions that was described during the trial. My behavior was completely irrelevant and nothing like this has ever happened to me before or since.
“My actions resulted from taking strong sleeping pills that I had never taken before and my only intention was to make sure I was able to sleep on a transatlantic flight after a grueling play schedule. I paid dearly for my mistake. This case has had a devastating impact on me personally, on my family and on my career.
Olesen was part of the European Ryder Cup squad that beat the United States in 2018 and secured lucrative sponsorship deals with companies including Nike, BMW, Rolex and Titleist.
He was suspended and lost contracts after his landing arrest at Heathrow Airport and has struggled on the European Tour since his reinstatement, dropping from 51st to 440th in the world rankings.
Olesen said: “I learned from my mistake and I will make sure I never put myself in a similar position again. I now want to focus on my golf, free from distractions, and reward the confidence of everyone who trusted me throughout this very difficult time.
The case echoes the 2002 trial of REM guitarist Peter Buck in which the rock star was cleared of being drunk on a plane, assaulting flight attendants and causing criminal property damage. from British Airways. He criticized a sleeping pill before takeoff for having transformed it into an “automaton” during a 10-hour flight between Seattle and Heathrow.