An undertaker accused of sexually abusing five boys told a jury he found the allegations distressing and upsetting.
Gerald Martin took to the witness box today at Teesside Crown Court to give evidence in his defence.
Martin told the jury he became aware of his homosexual leanings as a teenager, but hadn’t told anyone until police began their investigation into him three years ago.
“I wanted to tell my wife earlier,” said Martin. “We are happy, absolutely, and I love her so much.
“The police questions of me were frightening, annoying and upsetting, I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me.
“I’ve been accused of being a paedophile, verging on homophobic.
“I’ve been described as a scrote, and other things that really upset me and my family.”
In police interviews, Martin admitted having numerous sexual encounters with adults, but denied ever having any sexual contact with a child.
He is alleged to have abused the children in public toilets in Hartlepool, and at the funeral parlour where he works.
Martin told police he had not had any sexual encounters in either location.
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.
He is expected to be giving evidence for most of today.