A jury is considering its verdicts in the case of an undertaker accused of sexually abusing five boys.
Judge Simon Phillips QC completed his summing up of the evidence in the case of Gerald Martin yesterday afternoon.
The judge gave the jury 20 minutes for ‘preliminary considerations’ before sending them home overnight to resume their deliberations this morning.
In 10 days of evidence at Teesside Crown Court, the jury was told of five boys who allege they were sexually abused by Martin.
He is accused of abusing the boys on separate occasions. The abuse is alleged to have taken place in public toilets in Hartlepool, at the funeral parlour in Park Road, Hartlepool, where Martin works, and at two other places in the town.
Martin old the jury he was a closet homosexual at the time and felt unable to disclose his sexuality to anyone, including his wife.
He admitted telling ‘untruths’ about his adult male homosexual encounters to police who interviewed him in 2014 because he was frightened and still trying to come to terms with the allegations against him.
Martin told the jury he had never had sexual relations with any child.
He said he kept his adult male homosexual relations a secret because ‘times were different then’ and he feared a homophobic reaction.
The court heard allegations against Martin surfaced in 2013 when one of his alleged victims, by then grown up, was suffering mental health problems.
Two more alleged victims came forward after press publicity of Martin’s first appearance at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court.
Police later contacted two more alleged victims who were named by one of the men who had already made an allegation of abuse.
The judge told the jury: “You must strive to reach unanimous verdicts in respect of each of the counts.”
Martin, 66, of Valley Close, Hartlepool, denies 14 separate charges.