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UK surgeon claims secretary 'bite' was 'affectionate kiss'

David Johnson
David Johnson

A renowned knee surgeon bit his secretary on her arm as the two did paperwork together, a court heard.

David Johnson, 57, who has treated Premier League players and Wimbledon champions, is accused of common assault in September last year.

Bristol Magistrates' Court heard the private orthopaedic surgeon bit Krysha James, his secretary of five years, on her upper left arm - leaving a bruise.

Johnson, of Sea Walls Road, Bristol, claims the encounter was a "peck or an affectionate kiss" as they sat next to each other in their office.

Ms James wept as she recounted the incident, which happened at the cabin in which they worked at the car park of the private Spire Hospital in Bristol.

"Mr Johnson wheeled his chair over alongside mine to my left with an invoice that we were going over together," she told the court.

"He was centimetres away from me. I had to lean forward and slide to the left to pick up some headed paper to put into the printer to print some details off.

"I would have crossed his path to get the paper. Mr Johnson leant forward and bit me.

"I swore at him 'you bloody bitch, you bit me, you don't ever bite me - my kids don't bite and my dogs don't bite'.

"He said 'oh sorry, did that hurt?'. I don't know why he did it. There was no horseplay previous to that.

"We hadn't had an argument so there was no aggression. It just came out of the blue."

Ms James said she immediately told Johnson that he had hurt her and they examined the red mark left behind.

The court heard Johnson attempted to "rub it better" but Ms James, who was wearing a short-sleeved sweater, pulled her arm away.

Johnson then left to attend an appointment at a different hospital.

Ms James reported the incident to the hospital and police. Photographs were taken of the mark on her arm.

She asked for the matter to be logged as she believed she would lose her job if she made a formal complaint, the court heard.

But it was investigated due to the severity of the allegation and Johnson was suspended.

Ms James no longer works for Johnson, losing her "main wage" of between £1,100 and £1,300 per month.

The day after the incident, Johnson allegedly called Ms James stating that he would reject her account and sue her for loss of earnings and reputation.

Later that day, he posted a letter through the front door of her home, accompanied by a grievance policy.

The letter asked Ms James to withdraw her complaint and claimed the contact between them had been a "peck", it is alleged.

Ms James, who also runs an aerial fitting business with her partner, said the bruise was visible for two weeks and remained painful for up to 10 days.

Prosecuting, Ian Jackson told the court the incident happened after Johnson arrived at the office at 8.30am on September 3.

"He disputes that there has been any bite on his part," he said.

"He does accept, not just in interview but in a letter which he delivered to her property, there was some contact.

"This was a peck or an affectionate kiss. The Crown say that cannot in certain terms be squared with the injury as shown in photographs."

Johnson denies a charge of common assault.

Nicholas Corsellis, defending Johnson, suggested to Ms James that her employment had been "coming to a head" at the time of the incident.

He said Johnson, a single man, had a tactile relationship with Ms James and they would kiss each other upon greeting "in a European way".

The court heard no bite marks could be seen on Ms James' arm but she insisted she could feel Johnson's "teeth sinking in".

Mr Corsellis told the court Ms James had been recently denied a pay rise, she had failed to chase bad debts and was behind in reports.

He suggested to Ms James that she wanted to branch out from working in a cabin with Johnson and had decided to leave before the alleged bite.

"I left myself without a wage with two young children," she replied. "I would not be that irresponsible as a parent."

Mr Corsellis described his client as a "surgical person" that could come across as arrogant and was not well liked at the hospital.

"He rubs people up the wrong way but he is a damn good surgeon," he said.

Ms James agreed that her former boss was disliked and claimed he had previously thrown folders at her and bitten her before the incident.

"It hurt and I told him not to bite me. He just smirked at me," she said.

Mr Corsellis suggested that Ms James had pinched herself to cause a bruise to support her claim that Johnson had bitten her.

He said she lied to police about a previous bite to support her false allegation.

Ms James denied both suggestions.

Colleagues of Ms James described how she was upset and shocked in the aftermath of the incident.

Kim Moss, an admin consultant at the Spire Hospital, said Ms James lifted her sleeve to show her a bruise the following day.

"It looked like a bite mark," she said. "It was oval-shaped and red-purple in colour."

Dr David Rouse, a pathologist, viewed images of the injury Ms James allegedly suffered.

"There's no evidence of any of the typical features of a human bite mark," Dr Rouse told the court.

In police interview, Johnson said he had a career of 30 years but had been unable to practise following the allegations.

He claimed that Ms James would kiss him on the lips and he believed she had tried to "edge" their relationship forward but he had resisted.

The surgeon said he was invited on family holidays and close to her two sons, aged six and nine.

Johnson said the pair had been working in the cabin he rented at the hospital on the morning of September 3.

"She was on my immediate right so that we were touching. I was reading my papers," he told police.

"She reached across with her left arm to pick up some papers she had printed from the printer.

"In doing this, there was contact and she pushed me out the way.

"This was unexpected, forceful and prevented me from reading my papers.

"I took this as unexpected, playful banter. I pecked or kissed the top of her shoulder to say 'I can't work in this position'.

"She withdrew her arm in surprise. She said 'you bitch'. I apologised for surprising her."

Johnson said his secretary lifted her sleeve up and they both rubbed it better before continuing with their work.

He told police the marks shown in images of Ms James's arm were not bite marks.

The court heard Johnson is an internationally recognised knee surgeon

The Bristol Knee and Sports Injury Clinic website states he had treated Premier League and international football players, rugby players from the British and Irish Lions and the Springboks and Wimbledon tennis champions.

The trial, in front of District Judge Lynne Matthews, was adjourned.