Hartlepool funeral director stands trial accused of abusing five boys

Gerald Martin.
Gerald Martin.

A gay funeral director has gone on trial accused of sexually abusing five teenage boys.

Gerald Martin is alleged to have found his victims in public toilets and abused them there or at other premises in Hartlepool, including a room at the top of the funeral parlour where he works.

Teesside Crown Court heard Martin admits having homosexual relations with adult men, but denies any involvement with boys.

Two of his alleged victims claim Martin paid them £1, £2 and £5 for sex.

Another victim claims Martin forcibly abducted him from the Burn Valley Gardens toilets in Hartlepool, and took him to a room at the top of the Mason and Gerald Martin funeral parlour where he was kept against his will and sexually abused.

The court was told of a homosexual underworld based in public toilets in Hartlepool in which the older men were called ‘queens’, the younger men were called ‘aunties’, and the boys they abused were called ‘chicks’ or ‘chickens’.

Prosecutor Peter Makepeace QC told the jury: “It is the Crown’s case that periodically he was sexually abusing a series of teenage boys.

“The defendant is saying he didn’t do it, but if he did the acts alleged against him, he is guilty of the offences with which he is charged.”

The court heard Martin spent most of his life in Hartlepool, working in the Co-op store, later transferring to its funeral department.

He spent a short time in a monastery, before joining Mason’s funeral directors where he is now a senior employee.

Martin married his wife Pauline in 1979, the jury heard.

Mr Makepeace said the allegations against Martin came to light in April, 2013.

“One of the victims attended the accident and emergency department at North Tees Hospital,” added Mr Makepeace. “He said he was suicidal, and confided to a nurse he had been sexually abused as child by a man named Gerald from Hartlepool.

“The case was investigated, Mr Martin was charged and appeared before Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court.

“A report of that case, including a photograph, appeared in the Hartlepool Mail which led to another victim came forward.

“He told police he believed there was another lad who was abused.

“The other lad was traced and he told police he was abused in the Burn Valley Gardens toilets by a number of men.

“In total, there are five victims, now adult men, who allege they were abused by Martin.”

Martin, 66, 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 trial is expected to last three weeks.