THE jury in the trial of a school head accused of having a sexual relationship with a teenage boy will resume deliberations on their return to court today (Thursday July 3).
Judge Christopher Prince sent the seven women and five men on the panel home for the evening today (Wednesday July 2) after they failed to reach unanimous verdicts on any of the six counts facing 54-year-old Anne Lakey, at Durham Crown Court.
The jury retired to consider its verdicts on four charges of indecent assault and two of gross indecency, all involving a male child, shortly after 1pm on the seventh day of the trial.
Ms Lakey, who denies the charges, is accused of grooming the boy, then aged 13 or 14, before conducting the relationship, after inviting him to her home, in Oxhill Villas, Stanley, County Durham, when her husband was away, over several months in the late 1980s.
The court was told that at the time she was head of history at a school in Sunderland, and although the boy was not a pupil of hers, he knew she was a teacher.
It was only in December 2012 that the alleged victim, then in his late 30s, sent an email to one of the two schools she oversees, making his allegations.
Ms Lakey has been suspended since then from her role as chief executive of the Durham Federation of Schools, comprising former failing comprehensives in Ushaw Moor and Sacriston, whose fortunes she has helped to turn round in recent years.
Addressing the jury in his summing up of the evidence today, Judge Prince said: “This is not a case where identification is an issue.
“In this case somebody is telling you lies.
“There are only two people appearing in this trial who know what the truth is.
“It’s either the defendant who is lying or the complainant is lying.
“ That’s the easy issue in this case and that’s the issue to which you must give your consideration.
“The prosecution case is that the defendant committed sexual offences when the boy was under the age of 16 and he was truthful in telling you about those matters.
“It’s the defence case that he has made a claim to a friend at school that he had sex with her and he has been unable to escape that claim over the years.”
The judge urged the jury to try the case dispassionately and to ignore emotive phrases used by the prosecution, referring to Ms Lakey with terms such as “sexual predator”.