JURORS were today (July 1) told to forget recent high profile cases when considering their verdict in the trial of a school head accused of having sex with a teenage boy.
Defence barrister Julie Clemitson urged a jury at Durham Crown Court to put out of their minds cases such as this week’s conviction of veteran entertainer Rolf Harris for historic sex abuse.
Miss Clemitson was giving her final speech to the jury on the sixth day of the trial of Anne Lakey, the acclaimed chief executive of the County Durham Federation of Schools, who is alleged to have conducted a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy in the late 1980s.
Then in her late 20s and a history teacher, Ms Lakey is accused of “grooming” the impressionable boy, who was not a pupil at her school, before regularly having sex with him at her home in Stanley, County Durham, over several months.
Miss Clemitson told the jury: “The prosecution proceeded to open the case using emotive language, calling her ‘a predator’, using terms like ‘manipulative’ and ‘grooming’, and you heard all that before you heard from Anne Lakey.
“This is not a case involving a celebrity like Rolf Harris who you will have heard being described as ‘a predator’ all over the media this morning.
“This is about Anne Lakey, a driven career lady, a driven teacher, and not a celebrity who thinks they can indecently touch anyone, as and when they like.
“Her fate is in your hands and it all rests on the words of the complainant and whether or not you can be sure he has told the truth, or if Anne Lakey is telling the truth, or not, of if you can’t be sure.
“As with many of these cases it’s one person’s word against another and sometimes it’s impossible to tell who is telling the truth.”
She said it may be a case of ‘local legend’ of a joke or boastful banter by the alleged victim becoming considered to be the truth.
Earlier, prosecuting counsel Caroline Goodwin asked the jury why the complainant would make such a claim and put himself through the ordeal of giving key evidence at a trial.
“This is not about glorious references years later, it’s about what went on between two people at that time.
“Someone here is telling lies and the Crown would say the person telling lies is Anne Lakey, because the person with most to lose here is her.”
Following an agreed amendment to the original nine-count indictment, Ms Lakey, 54, of Oxhill Villas, Stanley, now denies four charges of indecent assault and two of indecency with a child.
Judge Christopher Prince will sum up the evidence to the jury tomorrow (July 2).