A JURY has cleared a man of sexually assaulting a schoolgirl as he walked past her while leaving a shop in Workington town centre.

Carlisle Crown Court heard that when police arrested the accused man, 36-year-old Mohammed Nassiri, his immediate response had been to urge them to check the area's CCTV cameras.

The trial also heard that the defendant - who has lived in the UK for more than a decade - had never been in trouble before and that he had had an earlier negative encounter with a chief prosecution witness.

The prosecution argued that Mr Nassiri, of Falcon Street, Workington, groped the girl and kissed her on the cheek as the two passed each other in a shop doorway on June 17, 2019.

The girl's father was inside the shop at the time.

But from the outset, Mr Nassiri said there was no contact and he suggested that the man who claimed he had seen this happen from the nearby car in which he was sitting had 'put the girl up to lying.'

The girl told police Mr Nassiri touched her once and then kissed her on the cheek. In his evidence, Mr Nassiri said he did not initially seen the girl as he opened the shop door but then noticed her standing to his right.

"There was no physical contact with her whatsoever," he said. He stressed not wanting to bump into her.

After the court had heard all the evidence, defence barrister Anthony Parkinson outlined why the jury should acquit the defendant, who denied a sexual assault.

The barrister said there were no issues with the defendant's behaviour towards the young daughter of a woman he knew well. The alleged victim had various learning difficulties, said the barrister.

After the alleged assault, Mr Nassiri did not try to flee the area. He had gone to another shop to buy an energy drink.

Mr Nassiri's first response to police was to urge officers to check local CCTV cameras, saying that they would show that nothing had happened. This was not the behaviour of a guilty man, said the barrister.

In his evidence, the defendant recalled seeing the man who claimed to have seen a sexual assault on an earlier occasion, finding him taking drugs with a woman he knew.

This upset Mr Nassiri, who had words with the woman about it. He said the witness - the man he had seen taking drugs - had put the girl up to lying about what happened.