A DRIVING instructor accused of sexually assaulting five of his female students has been standing trial at Chester Crown Court.

Derek Booth, 49, of Coed Mor, Pen-y-ffordd near Holywell, denies 10 counts of sexual assault and one count of attempting to encourage a young female to engage in sexual activity.

The offences are alleged to have taken place between June 2016 and February 2018, when Booth was employed at a driving school in Ellesmere Port.

The charges range from touching of students' thighs to kissing on the mouth and, in the most serious charge, moving a student's hand for her to touch his penis.

Booth was arrested in early 2018, with police then contacting his driving school students to ask if Booth had been inappropriate with them.

The alleged five victims appeared at Chester Crown Court behind privacy screens to give their accounts.

One witness, speaking on day two of the trial and being questioned by prosecutor Anna Price, said she had initially found Booth to be "friendly and nice, but awkward" and a "bit strange".

But during the driving lessons, the teenager felt "uncomfortable" when Booth asked about her sex life with her partner.

She said Booth would remark how she looked like his wife, and that the two should meet up as they would get on well with each other.

She added Booth would grab her inner thigh when telling her how well she was doing, and this had happened "quite a few times", and his hand would be on her thigh for "a few seconds".

Cross-examined by Booth's defence solicitor Nicholas Williams, the witness said Booth came across as "a bit of a weirdo" but was "a good driving instructor" and had about 16 lessons with him.

She did not tell him to stop conversation topics such as her sex life as she felt awkward to do so.

She added: "From my point of view it was never anything more than he was the driving instructor, I was the student.

"I think he wanted to be more than just friends."

Another witness said Booth knew she was nervous and shy, but he would brush his hand by her calf to make her jump, when she was in the passenger seat.

She also said Booth would touch her on the thigh, just above the knee. One time she said it was to "comfort" her but it was a bit longer, while the other occasions he would tap her above the knee.

This would coincide with Booth telling her to lift her leg off the clutch pedal.

Questioned by Ms Price, the witness said Booth had recommended she take some calming tablets, and asked if she had a boyfriend, adding she should get one to boost her confidence.

She added: "Sometimes he joked that I needed someone like him."

Cross-examined by Mr Williams, the witness confirmed police had been in touch with her asking if he wished to provide evidence of Booth's behaviour.

When asked if she would have filed a complaint herself with an authority – such as the driving school or the police – the witness said she was not sure.

Booth denies all charges. The trial continues.