Hartlepool sex charge man denies knowing victim

The site of the former public toilets in Burn Valley Gardens at the junction of Stockton Road, Blakelock Road, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID
The site of the former public toilets in Burn Valley Gardens at the junction of Stockton Road, Blakelock Road, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

A 81-year-old man accused of a sex offence against a boy told a jury he had never heard of his alleged victim.

Joseph Brown is one of five men from Hartlepool facing sex charges at Teesside Crown Court

Brown told the court: “I’ve never heard his name before, let alone met him. The allegations against me are nonsensical, ridiculous, and not true. I have three sons myself, I’m not attracted to young people.

“Having to tell my family I’d been charged with this was the worst thing I’ve been through in my life.

“The effect on my family has been terrible, and I’ve not had a night’s sleep since the police knocked on my door.”

Brown told the court he used to visit the Burn Valley Gardens toilets in Hartlepool for sexual encounters with men.

He said: “I was a licensee for 35 or 40 years. You get a good knowledge for looking at people for their age. If there were young people in the toilets when I went there, I came out.

“I’m sorry for what the lad went through, I was abused myself, but he was no victim of mine.”

Brown is in the dock with four other men, including Peter Watts.

Watts told the jury he first realised he was attracted to men when he was about 11-years-old.

“My first experience was in a toilet in Stockton,” said Watts. “The other man was about 25.

“My preference has always been for men in their thirties, forties, fifties, even seventies if they were attractive.

“The men I met in the Burn Valley toilets were usually married.

“I’m not attracted to schoolboys, and I never saw any in the toilets.”

The jury heard earlier the case against the men stemmed from a police inquiry into Hartlepool undertaker Gerald Martin, who was jailed last year for child sex offences.

Watt told the court: “I know of Martin from his funeral parlour. “You used to see him walking in front of the funeral cars wearing his top hat. He was never a friend or an associate of mine, and I never saw him in the toilets.”

Watts said he knew three of his co-accused from seeing them around Hartlepool, and he had seen the remaining defendant, Robert Black, in the toilets ‘a couple of times’.

Watts, 72, of Oxford Road, Hartlepool, denies five charges of indecent assault.

Brown, 81, of Front Street, Hart, denies one charge of indecent assault.

Black, 71, of Derwent Grange, Hartlepool, admits two charges of indecent assault.

Geoff Hillier, 72, of Haswell Avenue, Hartlepool, denies two charges of indecent assault, and two serious sexual offences.

Alan Edmenson, 66, of Ibrox Grove, Hartlepool, denies one charge of indecent assault.

All of the offences are alleged to have taken place in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Proceeding.