An award-winning floral duo split after one half of the platonic partnership allowed his green fingers to wander in his teammate’s ladygarden as she dozed on the sofa.
A twenty-one year friendship and mutual love of gardening was shattered in seconds when 73 year-old Peter Power patted his knickerless companion twice between the legs.
The recently widowed Irishman, of Litchfield Gardens, Willesden, was sentenced to three months imprisonment, suspended for twelve months, after pleading guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court to sexually assaulting the 56 year-old in the early hours of August 2, last year at her Camden home.
“They won the Camden Garden of the Year two years running,” Power’s lawyer Dianne Chan told the court. “That is now at an end. He has lost a friend and she has lost a friend.”
The victim was in tears the next day when chatting to her sister on the phone, recalling how she woke up to discover her trusted pal with his hand between her legs.
“There is some ancient romantic history between the two of them and they have been very close over the years,” explained Miss Chan. “He would help put her to bed, help with chores, walk the dog and they watched television together.
“He was trying to wake her up. He knows it is inappropriate to wake someone up by touching them in a private area, but it did the trick.
“Those two pats brought twenty-one years of friendship, a very close friendship to an end,” added Miss Chan. “The saddest thing is it is such a loss for the both of them.”
The court was told Power took care of the heavy lifting and manual labour in the victim’s garden and she concentrated on design and presentation.
“To lose a companion of many years after the loss of his wife was a double blow,” said Miss Chan. “They have not seen or contacted each other since.”
Judge Deva Pillay also ordered Power to sign on the sex offender’s register for the next five years and placed him under probation supervision for twelve months.
“I am sure you utterly regret what you did that night,” the Judge told Power. “There were many other ways you could have woken her.
“Your behaviour was utterly unacceptable, but you lost your good name and a long friendship.”