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Ryder Cup winner Thorbjorn Olesen has been cleared of sexual assault, assault by beating and being drunk on an aircraft.

The 31-year-old wept and hugged his partner after being found not guilty at the end of a three-day trial in London.

It took a jury just over an hour to clear Olesen following proceedings at Aldersgate House Nightingale Court.

In a statement, the Dane said: “I want to apologise wholeheartedly to everyone on board the flight from [Nashville] to London on July 29, 2019, who was affected by my behaviour.

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“I do not remember anything that happened after take-off, but I am embarrassed and ashamed by the account of my actions that was outlined during the trial.

“My behaviour was completely out of character and nothing like this has ever happened to me before or since.


“My actions resulted from taking powerful sleeping pills I had not taken before and my sole intent was to ensure I managed to sleep on a transatlantic flight after an exhausting playing schedule.

“I have paid a very heavy price for my mistake.

“This case has had a devastating impact on me personally, on my family, and on my career”.

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Olesen was arrested following a flight from Nashville to London Heathrow in July 2019. He was subsequently charged with sexual assault, assault by beating and being drunk on an aircraft.  

During this week’s trial, witnesses alleged that, amongst other things, he had grabbed a woman’s breast, urinated on a fellow first-class passenger’s seat and was “under the influence of something” during the journey.

Giving evidence yesterday, Olesen, who denied all charges, attributed his “bizarre behaviour” to mixing alcohol with two melatonin tablets along and a further two Ambien/Zolpadine pills.

Addressing the jury today, his QC Trevor Burke said: “His conduct was not voluntary, that is the essence of automatism.”

Burke added that the prescription-only Ambien/Zolpadine pills had been given to Olesen prior to his trip to the United States by his partner who had ordered them from a “dodgy website”. All of this, said Burke, made Olesen’s actions “explainable, medically speaking”.

“He would never have knowingly taken them had he recognised even the remotest risk of his life being completely ruined,” said Burke. “All this man has ever wanted to do was play golf, please let him play it again.”

Prosecutor Max Hardy had urged the jury to convict Olesen, who was joined on the plane by other players including Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.

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“Were those golfers letting their hair down after a very stressful period, including what some people consider the most important golf tournament of the year,” asked Hardy.

“Is there a possibility of deliberate consumption of alcohol and pills for recreational purposes knowing that was not going to cause any trouble with doping rules?”

A five-time winner on the European Tour, Olesen is currently ranked 432nd on the OWGR.

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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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