Man denies claims he sexually abused girl

The case is being heard at Teesside Crown Court
The case is being heard at Teesside Crown Court

A businessman denied abusing a child decades ago.

Michael Craig, who owns Hartlepool-based ELP Coil Windings, told a jury he never touched an alleged victim as claimed as he went on trial this week.

Craig told Teesside Crown Court: “I never touched her inappropriately.”

The prosecution claims Craig groomed the girl for sex by treating her on days out, and by showering her with gifts, including money, and a cake.

“If you take a child out for a day, you want them to enjoy it,” said Craig.

“A few sweets is neither here nor there.

“The cake didn’t cost me anything.

“I’d done some favours for the owners of a cake shop that had just opened at the time.”

Social services carried out an investigation into his relationship with the child after two anonymous letters were received raising concerns for the child’s welfare.

The court was told the letter was shown to both Craig and the girl’s mother, but neither could recognise the handwriting.

The investigation found nothing improper.

A case review a year or so later concluded visiting Craig for a second time about the matter would be a breach of his civil liberties.

At the time, the alleged victim told social workers she liked Craig, but during the succeeding years she told friends, relations, and healthcare professionals she had been abused by him as a child.

When she was an adult, she rang Craig to confront him about what she claimed had happened.

“I didn’t know what she was talking about,” he said. “If I recall money was mentioned, so all I can think is she was making up the story to get money out of me.”

Craig now lives in Knaresborough with his wife and three children.

He has no previous convictions, cautions or reprimands, the court heard.

David Potter, defending, said social services in Yorkshire had no knowledge of the family, and no concern had been expressed about the welfare of their children.

Craig, 59, of Watermill, Knaresborough, denies nine charges of indecent assault.

Following defence submissions, Judge Stephen Ashurst ruled there is insufficient evidence to try three of the charges.

The judge directed the jury to find Craig not guilty of those three charges.

“You are still trying him on the remaining six charges,” said the judge.

l The case continues