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Hedge fund manager accused of groping ‘was like an octopus’, court told

A young investment banker has told a court that being allegedly groped by a multimillionaire hedge fund manager was “like an octopus experience”.

Crispin Odey, 62, is on trial at Hendon Magistrates’ Court, where he denies indecently assaulting the woman, then 26, at his home in Chelsea, west London, in summer 1998.

The court has heard that he ordered a Chinese takeaway, then showered and changed out of his suit into a robe before assaulting her in his kitchen.

She said he put his hand down her shirt to touch her breast and reached up her skirt, after inviting her back to his house following a work meeting at his office in Grosvenor Square.

Married Odey, who was 39 at the time, claims he propositioned the woman, who was a junior employee at a well-known investment bank of which he was a client, but denies any physical contact.

Under cross-examination by Crispin Aylett QC, defending, the complainant said on Thursday: “He was next to me. It was sort of like an octopussy-type manoeuvre.

“The first thing I remember was actually on my back. Then, it was like a scramble of hands, it was like a groping event, is the only way to describe it.

“The very first thing was the hand on my back, I can’t remember the exact sequence, I just remember the general attempt to get involved with my body and on top of me with his hands.

“I referred to it like an octopus experience, this physical engagement.

“I don’t remember the exact choreography.”

Mr Aylett said: “Or is it the case this didn’t happen at all and that’s why you can’t remember the choreography?”

The woman replied: “Well we disagree on that.”

She also disagreed when the barrister said: “I’m suggesting to you that Crispin Odey didn’t touch you in any way at all in a sexual sense inside the house at Swan Walk.”

The court earlier heard from a friend – a former boyfriend and ex-colleague – who the woman called after leaving Odey’s home.

Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey with his wife Nichola Pease
Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey with his wife Nichola Pease (Aaron Chown/PA)

“I recall a telephone call from (the complainant) who was in an upset state,” said the man, who was not named to protect the woman’s anonymity.

He said she was “very upset” when she arrived at his flat, adding: “She was crying and when I asked details of what had got her so upset, she clammed up and then was very emotional.

“I kept asking her what had actually happened.

“I suggested if anything untoward had happened she should go and report it to police.

“I think the reaction that she gave me where she didn’t want to talk about what happened made me think something not very nice had happened.”

Taking him through his police witness statement, prosecutor Kerry Broome said the man had “presumed at the time Crispin Odey had tried it on with her”.

She asked: “Is that what you deduced?”

“Yes, that’s correct,” he replied.

The complainant, who now lives in the US, earlier told the court she informed three senior colleagues at the bank the following day what had happened, but added: “They said, ‘You will be fired… nothing will come of this. You will lose your job’.”

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In his statement to police, one of the men said: “She was upset and felt that Odey had taken advantage of her. I didn’t know how serious it was and what exactly had happened.”

Giving evidence, he said the meeting took place in a room off the trading floor.

“Clearly, something had happened in that meeting that made her feel uncomfortable,” he said.

“The impression was something inappropriate had happened, but she didn’t tell us anything more than that in terms of what had happened, so there was a sort of spectrum of possibilities.

“There was no suggestion that anything was necessarily so serious that action need be taken forthwith.

“I think if that was the case the three of us, even though we weren’t management, would’ve taken action unilaterally ourselves.”

Another colleague said to have been at the meeting said he had “no recollection” but added that Odey, with whom he still has a professional relationship, is “nothing but a complete gentleman”.

“He’s a character, he’s charming, he’s fun, and the word ‘dishonest’ would be about as far as you can manage from him,” he said.

“He’s a very open person. Controversial but certainly honest and honourable.”

The trial continues.

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