Family members deny they help sex offender flee the UK
Three members of the family of a twice-convicted paedophile told a jury they believe he is innocent.
Christine Officer, George Burgon and Alison Connor all told Teesside Crown Court Frank Burgon did not abuse his two victims, and each said the family had been harassed by Cleveland Police during the child abuse investigations and the subsequent inquiry into Frank Burgon’s flight from justice.
Each family member is accused of helping Frank Burgon go on the run on his yacht, and to Turkey and Spain.
Prosecutor Paul Newcombe said Frank Burgon used another family member’s passport to travel to France on March, 2, 2013 - three days before his trial was due to start for the second set of child abuse allegations.
Officer, who is Frank Burgon’s partner, said: “We were not living together at the time.
“He bought some washing round to my house on March 2, which was normal.
“I didn’t see him the next day, but his brother-in-law had just died so I assumed he had gone to visit there.
“I went to Teesside Crown Court for the trial expecting to see him.
“My next contact was four of five months later when a piece of paper came through my door with a phone number on it.
“I rang the number, Frank answered, and I told him he must come home because what he was doing looked bad in the eyes of the law.”
The jury heard Frank Burgon’s brother George collected him at Los Palmas airport and took him to an apartment.
“My wife and I would stay on Gran Canaria during the colder months,” said George Burgon. “It was midnight when my brother rang me out of the blue from the airport.
“I has no idea what he had been up to or where he had been, he looked like a tramp, filthy, presumably he’d been on the yacht.
“We argued about what to do next, I told him he had to go home so I let him stay on the agreement I would cut my holiday short and we would go home on the Monday.
“In hindsight, I should have called Cleveland Police.”
The jury heard two residents of the apartment complex contacted Spanish police and Frank Burgon was arrested and later extradited.
Alison Connor, who is Frank Burgon’s niece, told the jury she tried to contact him while he was on the run because she was concerned for his welfare.
“I did tell the police I wouldn’t tell them where Frank was, but that was because I didn’t know where Frank was.
“The police had been harassing us for the last year, and I did swear at one of the detectives, but I do have respect for the law.
“I do believe Frank is innocent, but I did nothing to help him evade justice.”
Frank Burgon, 79, of Borough Road, Middlesbrough, George Burgon, 77, and Connor, 52, both of Old Bungalow, Field House Farm, Dalton Piercy, and Officer, 63, of Bruntoft Road, Hartlepool, all deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The jury is expected to be sent out to consider its verdicts early next week.