A MAN grabbed the buttocks of a female staff member dressed as the Easter bunny at Trump Turnberry – the day after his daughter was married at the plush Ayrshire venue.

Ross Ballantine was ordered to pay compensation to the victim of his “humiliating” attack after being found guilty of assault.

Ballantine had pleaded not guilty to putting his arm around a woman, touching her on the body, and then touching her on the buttocks over the top of her clothing.

But during a trial at Ayr Sheriff Court the 63-year-old told prosecutors he had carried out the assault – claiming he had no idea why he did it.

The 28-year-old victim told the court Ballantine had “grabbed my backside at the front entrance” after being asked to pose for a picture by family members.

The court heard Ballantine had offered to plead guilty to a lesser charge of a non-sexual assault but that his offer was not accepted by the Crown.

Giving evidence, the staff member said she had been working as a concierge at the resort on April 17, 2022.

She said she was dressed as the Easter bunny at the time, in connection with activities being held for children during the course of the day.

The woman told the court: "I had an adult-sized bunny outfit with full head piece. It was six foot, so a bit large on me, with a blue waistcoat and bowtie.

"His daughter was married the previous day. I was asked to take a pic [by family] - I was dressed up as the bunny, and said yes, of course."

After the accused came out the front door of the resort, she added: "He smiled and put his arm round my shoulder, friendly. I had aleady met him the previous day.

"He asked if it was a boy or a girl bunny. He then moved his hand down my back and grabbed my backside.

"When that happened, I moved away suddenly and went 'oi'. Then he laughed and said 'it must be a boy bunny'.

"I got a fright as I had been grabbed. I didn't expect it. I was mostly shocked, then later I felt humiliated.

"I was at work, effectively in a children's entertainment role. It just felt odd.

“I was embarrassed and humiliated later. I was annoyed at not defending myself.”

The court heard the woman told her managers what had happened and had “broken down into tears” to a senior colleague after taking off the bunny mask.

Managers at the resort contacted the police, and Turnberry security staff told the woman CCTV evidence had been retrieved.

The footage was later passed over to the authorities and was presented in court by the procurator fiscal depute.

The woman added: "I didn't know if this was normal behaviour for this man, but it was not normal for me. I felt humiliated, objectified, but stranger as I was in the most 'PG' outfit, which made it more bizarre.

Under cross-examination by Ballantine’s solicitor, the woman said the touch wasn’t “a pat”, adding: “The reason I jumped away was he squeezed my butt.”

The court heard that Trump Turnberry management later sent Ballantine a letter banning him from the resort, and that Ballantine had written back apologising and expressing remorse.

Giving evidence in his defence, Ballantine admitted touching the woman’s bottom and said he was “ashamed to have caused distress”.

But he denied there was a sexual motivation to the assault.

Ballantine told the court: "I was in high spirits, having had a great weekend. I do remember saying if it was a male or female.”

Asked to explain his behaviour, Ballantine said: “I have no idea why. It was a spontaneous action.”

Asked if he would do it again, he said: “Absolutely not.”

Under cross-examination by the fiscal depute, Ballantine did not dispute lowering his arm and touching the woman on the bottom.

He said he accepted it was “inappropriate” and that it “would have been distressing”.

After legal debate the fiscal depute agreed to remove the section of the charge accusing Ballantine of “placing his arm around a woman and touching her on the body”, accepting this part of his behaviour was consensual.

Ballantine’s solicitor urged Sheriff Mhairi MacTaggart to accept that the action was a simple assault without any sexual intent.

Sheriff MacTaggart told Ballantine: "The question for me is whether this is assault or sexual assualt.

"It is quite a unique case. I'm not sure what to make of your questioning of whether the ‘bunny’ was male or female.

"If there had been any previous interaction in any way between you and this ‘Easter bunny’ of a sexual nature, I would have no hesitation in seeing a sexual element.

"What you did was wholly inappropriate, but on balance I view this as an assault on this lady by touching her on the buttocks.”

Ballantine, previously of Golf View in Bearsden and now living in East Kilbride, was ordered to pay £500 in compensation to the victim within 28 days.