June 27, 2019

  • Rev Peter McConnell groped a 23-year-old American PhD student on the flight
  • He also made ‘sleazy comments’ about sex acts after drinking bottles of wine 
  • A jury found 64-year-old McConnell guilty at Newcastle Crown Court today
Rev Peter McConnell, pictured at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday, could face prison for groping a passenger on a BA flight

A vicar could face prison after he was found guilty of groping a sleeping passenger during a British Airways flight.

Rev Peter McConnell sexually assaulted an American PhD student on a transatlantic flight in 2017 – after making ‘sleazy comments’ about sex acts, a court heard.

During the trip from Philadelphia to London Heathrow, the 64-year-old clergyman drank up to 10 small bottles of wine and asked the victim if he had been to ‘t***y’ bars.

He then spoke about God and asked his victim, 23, for forgiveness after the sex assault.

Today a jury found him guilty of sexual assault after four hours of deliberation at Newcastle Crown Court.

The vicar, who had been in America to visit his sister, had denied the charge and claimed he talked about ‘mindfulness’, not a sex act starting with the same letter.

After the verdict, prosecutor Andrew Espley said the former Northumbria Police chaplain had left his post with the force in 2014.

The clergyman must now sign the sex offenders register and will be sentenced next month.

He was granted conditional bail by judge Paul Sloan QC.

Mr Espley had told jurors the vicar had been ‘drinking heavily’ during the flight and had moved to sit beside the student because a child had been kicking the back of his own seat.