Sydney lawyer's groping charge dismissed

Tom Rabe

A top Sydney lawyer has hugged his wife moments after a magistrate cleared him of groping a fellow-jogger as she ran along a harbourside track.

Carl Harrap, 40, had pleaded not guilty to indecently assaulting a 20-year-old university student on the Clontarf Track in December last year.

In Manly Local Court on Friday, he testified that he "collided" with the woman by accident on a narrow path as he tried to pass her.

The woman told the court she was running up some stairs when she felt "a grab from behind" between her legs.

"I turned around and looked at him and then he bolted," she said.

Magistrate Christopher Longley dismissed the charge, saying there was doubt "in terms of the totality of the evidence".

The fact that Mr Harrap immediately ran from the scene was not evidence of guilt, he said.

The lawyer said he only ran away because the woman, who can't be named, was shouting "what the f***" repeatedly in an aggressive manner.

Mr Harrap's barrister Winston Terracini SC submitted that the stairs at the track were very narrow and often slippery.

Leigh Amity told the court he and his wife found the distressed woman on the path after hearing her scream and she told him she had been touched by a jogger.

"She said 'I've just been groped by a runner'," Mr Amity said.

Mr Amity then chased Mr Harrap down and brought him back to the scene, where the woman yelled at him "you grabbed my f***ing vagina".

The woman testified she was in shock afterwards and told Mr Harrap "you can't just do that".

Mr Harrap, a senior partner at FPA Patent Attorneys in Sydney, was arrested a short time later.

A police officer present at the arrest told the court Mr Harrap had stumbled over his words when initially asked what had happened.

Mr Harrap had said he may have bumped into the woman and then reserved his right to silence.