JURY FAILS TO REACH SEX CASE VER­DICT

Western Daily Press - - Front Page - ROD MINCHIN news@west­erndai­ly­press.co.uk

ATEACHER ac­cused of hav­ing sex with a stu­dent in the toi­let of a plane as they re­turned from a school trip could face a re­trial af­ter a jury failed to reach a ver­dict.

The panel of four men and six women was dis­charged yes­ter­day af­ter de­lib­er­at­ing for 10-and-a-half hours over three days in the trial of Eleanor Wil­son at Bris­tol Crown Court.

Judge Peter Blair QC, the Recorder of Bris­tol, stopped the trial af­ter the fore­man in­formed him there was not a “re­al­is­tic prospect” of reach­ing ma­jor­ity ver­dicts on any of the four charges of sex­ual ac­tiv­ity with a child by a per­son in a po­si­tion of trust, should they be given more time.

Wil­son, of The Rope Walk, Durs­ley, Glouces­ter­shire, was re­leased on un­con­di­tional bail.

Judge Blair told the panel: “I am go­ing to dis­charge you now from re­turn­ing ver­dicts on this in­dict­ment but can I ex­tend my grate­ful thanks to you on be­half of the court ser­vice for all the work you have been do­ing for the last three-and-a-half weeks.

“This hap­pens from time to time. Ev­ery year I keep a spread­sheet of tri­als that I do and the out­comes that there are and each year there are quite a num­ber of ju­ries that have the same per­fectly le­git­i­mate out­comes as this – what we call a hung jury.

“It is part of the sys­tem and you shouldn’t in any way beat your­selves up about it.”

Vir­ginia Corn­wall, pros­e­cut­ing, asked for seven days for the Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice to con­sider whether it wished to seek a re­trial.

The 29-year-old was on trial ac­cused of hav­ing drink-fu­elled sex­ual in­ter­course with the teenager on a British Air­ways flight home from an over­seas camp­ing trip in Au­gust 2015.

It is al­leged the teacher, then aged 26, kissed and cud­dled the boy be­fore “beck­on­ing” him into the toi­let where they al­legedly had sex, with 6ft 2in Wil­son perched on one leg, be­fore re­turn­ing to their seats.

She is also ac­cused of see­ing the boy out­side of school, where they al­legedly kissed and cud­dled on three sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions – af­ter a meal at Nando’s and trips to Tin­tern Abbey and Ash­ton Court.

Within weeks of the pair re­turn­ing from the trip, ru­mours had spread around the school that Wil­son was in a re­la­tion­ship with a stu­dent but when con­fronted by the head teacher she de­nied it, say­ing she was “hor­ri­fied” at the ac­cu­sa­tion.

At the same time, Wil­son dis­cov­ered she was preg­nant and went on to have an abor­tion, with pros­e­cu­tors claim­ing the boy was the fa­ther.

The court heard their “clan­des­tine” re­la­tion­ship was ex­posed months later when an­other pupil at the school tried to black­mail Wil­son into hav­ing sex with him.

The Royal Navy re­servist said she formed a friend­ship with the boy be­cause she had no friends of her own age she could con­fide in.

Wil­son told the court the boy had imag­ined the in­ci­dent in the toi­let and also de­nied hold­ing his hand and kiss­ing him dur­ing time alone, in­sist­ing there was “no truth what­so­ever” in the al­le­ga­tions.

She also ac­cused her then part­ner An­drew Hall of be­ing vi­o­lent and con­trol­ling and not be­ing ready to start a fam­ily with her.

The teenager, who bought Wil­son flow­ers and cho­co­lates, told the jury a bond de­vel­oped be­tween them and in­sisted his ac­count was not fan- tasy and that he was telling the truth.

Mr Hall de­scribed their re­la­tion­ship as “dys­func­tional”, but de­nied he was “con­trol­ling”, “jeal­ous”, “ag­gres­sive” and “phys­i­cal” to­wards her.

Eleanor Wil­son ar­riv­ing at Bris­tol Crown Court yes­ter­day

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