Jury told to put emotions aside in Gerald Martin trial

Gerald Martin.
Gerald Martin.

A judge told a jury trying an undertaker accused of sexual abuse it is their judgment that counts.

Judge Simon Phillips QC has begun his summing up in the case of Gerald Martin who is on trial at Teesside Crown Court.

“Cases of this nature give rise to strong emotions,” Judge Phillips told the jury. “It is your job to look carefully at the evidence in an objective and careful way.

“It is not necessary for the evidence to provide all the answers to the questions in the case, and you should not expect it to.

“If you find the evidence proves the defendant did the acts alleged against him, then the verdict should be guilty.

“If you find the evidence does not do that, or may not do that, then it’s not guilty.

“Your judgment is the one that counts.”

Martin is alleged to have abused five boys on separate occasions.

The abuse is alleged to have taken place in public toilets in Hartlepool, at the funeral parlour in Park Road in Hartlepool where Martin works, and at two other locations in the town.

Giving evidence, Martin told the jury he was a closet homosexual at the time and felt unable to disclose his sexuality to anyone.

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.

Judge Phillips told the jury a homosexual man does not automatically have an interest in boys.

The judge added: “You should accept that people may tell lies for many reasons, sometimes innocent reasons.

“They may lie to bolster an otherwise truthful account, or to conceal conduct they regard as shameful and embarrassing even though that conduct is not under investigation.

“They may lie out of panic, or because they are frightened. If you find a lie was told for an innocent reason, that cannot be used to support the prosecution case.”

Martin, 66, of Valley Close, Hartlepool, denies 14 charges.

The judge is expected to complete his summing up of the case on Thursday, when the jury will retire to consider its verdicts.