Jury to decide on fate of Hartlepool man who denies 22 sex allegations against girl

Teesside Crown Court
Teesside Crown Court

A JURY has retired to consider its verdicts for a Hartlepool man accused of more than 20 sex offences.

John Byers, 57, is on trial at Teesside Crown Court over allegations that he indecently assaulted a girl.

He is also accused of downloading hundreds of illegal child pornography images onto a computer between 2009 and 2012.

Byers, known as Jackie, denied sexually touching the alleged victim, who was under 16 at the time, when he gave evidence from the witness box.

He denied any of the alleged offences took place.

Earlier the court heard claims from the alleged victim that Byers indecently touched her on several occasions.

He later told police he was “gobsmacked” when the claims were put to him and said of them: “It makes me feel sick.”

Responding to the indecent images allegations, Byers told the jury that he came across them accidentally while searching the internet for adult pornography.

He said he would not deliberately download images of youngsters.

The trial heard a total of 475 indecent images of children as young as six were found on his laptop computer after he was arrested on suspicion of the indecent assault allegations.

A computer expert said they had not been saved, but were automatically downloaded after web pages had been loaded.

A quantity of adult porn was also found on the laptop.

Byers’ ex-wife, Lynne Byers, and two of his children also gave evidence in his defence yesterday morning.

Lorraine Mustard, defending, asked Lynne Byers: “As far as you are aware, at the time you were married to Jackie Byers, was there anything that raised concerns?”

Mrs Byers replied: “No.”

She and Byers’ daughter and youngest son denied suggestions by the prosecution that they had discussed their evidence with Byers to help him.

The jury of four women and eight men heard closing speeches by the prosecution and defence lawyers yesterday afternoon.

Byers, of Everett Street, Hartlepool, denies five counts of indecent assault, 16 charges of making indecent images and a further charge of possessing indecent images.

The trial continues today when the jury returns to consider their verdicts.