Widow of High Court judge, 77, charged with historical sexual abuse

Lady Lavinia Nourse arrive at Peterborough Knights Hall, a Temporary nightingale court in the ground

Lady Lavinia Nourse, 77, the widow of a High Court judge, is charged with repeatedly sexually abusing a young boy in the 1980s. - Credit: © Terry Harris

A man who has accused the widow of a Court of Appeal judge of sexually abusing him when he was a young boy in the 1980s told a court he "realised the shame I carried wasn't mine to bear". 

Lady Lavinia Nourse, of Newmarket in Suffolk, is on trial at Peterborough's Nightingale court, in the Knight's Chamber at the city's cathedral, charged with historical sexual abuse. 

The 77-year-old was married to Sir Martin Nourse, who died in 2017 aged 85. 

She denies 17 counts of sexually abusing a boy under the age of 12. 

The charges, which all relate to the same male complainant, are five counts of indecently assaulting a boy and 12 counts of indecency with a child. 


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Jennifer Knight QC, prosecuting, earlier told the trial that the boy "tried to bury away the memories" of alleged abuse but that, years later, after he got married and had children, he "became increasingly troubled by his recollection". 

Lady Lavinia Nourse arrive at Peterborough Knights Hall, a Temporary nightingale court in the ground

Lady Lavinia Nourse, 77, the widow of a High Court judge, is charged with repeatedly sexually abusing a young boy in the 1980s. - Credit: © Terry Harris

Ms Knight asked the complainant, now an adult, what motivated him to tell friends about the alleged abuse. 

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Giving evidence on Wednesday, he said he "carried the shame throughout my childhood" and has since had therapy. 

"I realised the shame I carried for this wasn't mine to bear," he said. 

"It belonged to that woman sitting over there (the defendant), who abused me throughout my childhood. 

"It's her shame." 

Lady Lavinia Nourse arrive at Peterborough Knights Hall, a Temporary nightingale court in the ground

Peterborough Knights Hall, a temporary nightingale court in the grounds of Peterborough Cathedral. - Credit: © Terry Harris

In a recording played to the court, the complainant said Lady Lavinia "screwed me up". 

He said that, years after the alleged abuse, he experienced difficulties in his relationship with his wife, which led him to tell her. 

"It's fair to say the root of my problems is I was sexually abused," he said. 

The man said in the recording that he was "trying to work things through but it got to such a point that I had to admit to what happened to me when I was younger". 

Lady Lavinia Nourse arrive at Peterborough Knights Hall, a Temporary nightingale court in the ground

Peterborough Cathedral, Knights Hall, Peterborough. - Credit: © Terry Harris

The court heard that Lady Lavinia previously had a PR company which had organised the premieres of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express and Phantom Of The Opera, and organised the Queen's 60th birthday celebrations. 

Ms Knight earlier told the trial that the complainant told his wife what had happened to him and later reported his allegations to police, with Lady Lavinia first interviewed by officers in 2019. 

The defendant claims that the alleged incidents of abuse did not happen, Ms Knight said. 

The trial continues. 

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