Funeral director on trial for child abuse ‘lied to police to keep homosexuality secret,’ court told

Gerald Martin.
Gerald Martin.

A married undertaker accused of sexually abusing young boys told a jury he lied to police because he wanted to keep his homosexuality a secret.

Gerald Martin told police at first he didn’t regularly go to public toilets in Hartlepool, then conceded he did go to watch homosexual activity, then conceded he had had homosexual sex in the toilets, but only with adult males, Teesside Crown Court heard.

“I want to apologise to the court for saying those things,” said Martin. “I was petrified when the police were asking me questions.

“I was trying to keep a secret a secret, that’s why I didn’t give the police the correct information.”

The court heard Martin was born and brought up in Hartlepool with his two brothers and two sisters, leaving school at 15 years to join the Co-op in its drapery department, later transferring to the funeral service.

He left the Co-op in 1971 to join a monastery.

“It was the Society of the Sacred Mission in Newark in Nottinghamshire,” said Martin. “I was there until late 1974 when I decided the monastic life was not for me, so I left and returned to Hartlepool.

“I met my wife Pauline in 1976, and we were married in 1979.

“I’d had homosexual feelings as a teenager, but didn’t tell anyone about that until the police investigation started three years ago.

“I wanted to tell my wife earlier, we are happy, absolutely, and I love her so much.

“We are still married now.”

Jamie Hill QC, defending, took Martin through each of his five alleged victims’ allegations.

One of Martin’s alleged victims claims he was picked him up in a black car and taken to a gymnasium in Park Road in Hartlepool.

“I didn’t have a black car,” said Martin. “I had no access to the funeral cars for private journeys, although I may have driven one at a funeral.

“There was a gymnasium in Park Road in the 1980s, but not in the 1970s.

“It had modern equipment, not old-fashioned equipment as the victim described.

“I did not do the things he said I did, I’d never seen him before he turned up at court for this trial.”

Another alleged victim claims he was abused on the top floor of the of the funeral parlour in which he works in Park Road.

“At that time the top two floors were living accommodation,” said Martin. “There was a family living there at that time, and I had no access or keys to the flats so I couldn’t have taken anyone to the top floor of the building.”

Another alleged victim claims he later turned vigilante and physically assaulted Martin in the Burn Valley toilets, making him ‘cry like a baby’.

“I’ve never been assaulted in any toilet,” said Martin.

A fourth victim claims he was abused by Martin at a house in Park Road, Hartlepool.

“I have only been to that house once,” said Martin. “And that was to meet the family who lived there to arrange a funeral,”

Mr Hill asked Martin if he had ever had any sexual activity with a child.

“Definitely not,” replied Martin. “All the allegations against me are untrue.”

The 66-year-old, of Valley Close, Hartlepool, denies seven charges of indecent assault, three charges of committing a serious sexual offence, three charges of attempting to commit a serious sexual offence, and one charge of false imprisonment.

The jury is expected to retire to consider its verdicts next week.