Hartlepool child sex charge jury discharged

The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.
The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.

A jury trying the case of a man accused of child abuse in Hartlepool decades ago has been discharged for legal reasons.

Michael Craig had been on trial for nine offences of sexually abusing a child at his ELP Coil Windings factory in Hartlepool and at other locations, including in his car.

The jury at Teesside Crown Court retired to consider its verdicts in the week-long case on Monday.

They returned to resume their deliberations yesterday, when one of them passed a note to Judge Stephen Ashurst.

Following discussion with prosecuting and defending barristers, Judge Ashurst discharged the jury from further deliberation in the case.

Chris Baker, prosecuting, asked for time for the Crown to consider if they would seek a re-trial. The judge granted the application and bailed Craig pending the decision on a retrial.

The court hear earlier that, about three years ago, Craig received an anonymous call from a man asking for an ‘out of court settlement’ in relation to the alleged abuse.

Craig reported the call to the police at the time.

David Potter, defending, suggested to the alleged victim she had got together with the anonymous caller in a plot to extort money from Craig.

The alleged victim said she knew nothing of the anonymous call and was not after money.

Craig, 59, of Watermill, Knaresborough, denied nine charges of sexual assault.

He was found not guilty of three of the charges after the judge ruled there is insufficient evidence for a conviction for those charges.

The remaining six counts are outstanding.

Prosecutors are expected to decide within the next 21 days if they want a re-trial on the remaining charges.