A SERVING councillor told a court that a man who had accused him of sexually abusing him as a schoolboy had threatened to "get him" after he refused to give him £20,000.

Councillor Peter McLaughlin, 62, said he had not heard from the man for years, but he phoned him "out of the blue" upon hearing he had been awarded more than £150,000 compensation after suffering post traumatic stress in a fatal accident while driving a holiday coach in France.

Coun McLaughlin, former chairman of Stanley Town Council and ex-chairman of Stanley Area Action Partnership, said the man had found out that he was living "everybody’s dream" in a very nice, large house in a nice area of County Durham.

Carlisle Crown Court has been told Coun McLaughlin is accused of deliberately grooming him as a 13-year-old so he could sexually assault him on trips abroad.

Coun McLaughlin said the man phoned him asking for money to set up a business in Cumbria, but he refused after which the man "got quite annoyed".

He said the conversation ended "not very nicely", with the man shouting "I will get you for this", before slamming the phone down.

Coun McLaughlin has pleaded not guilty to 15 charges of indecently assaulting the boy.

Asked by defence barrister Christine Egerton whether it was true that he had watched pornographic films with the boy, as the prosecution claims, he replied: “No definitely not.”

Asked if he had ever viewed such films himself, he replied: “No, I am a bit prudish that way.”

The prosecution allege that Coun McLaughlin abused the boy on coach trips after deliberately befriending him with the specific intention of sexually abusing him.

It alleges he frequently committed sexual acts with the boy in hotels where they were sharing a bedroom on foreign trips.

The charges only relate to incidents alleged to have happened in the UK, in hotels and at Coun McLaughlin's then home in Greystone Road, Carlisle, because anything that happened abroad would have been outside the jurisdiction of British courts.

The jury has been told he also assaulted the boy on trips to the continent because, the prosecution says, they help set the scene for what later happened back in England.

But giving evidence Coun McLaughlin said the boy had never accompanied him on any of the coach trips, either in this country or abroad.

He said he once arranged for the boy to go on a trip because of problems at his home, but he said he had not been the driver on that occasion.

He said he had been a close friend of the boy’s family, and that his mother had wanted a relationship with him even though she knew he was gay.

On one occasion, he said, she had tried to seduce him after drinking heavily.

He said: “It got quite embarrassing. She started making really strong advances towards me and the more I told her to back off the more she came on.”

Coun McLaughlin said that he did not have much to do with the boy, but one night he got home to find 15 homophobic messages on his answerphone.

One of the two voices on the tape was instantly recognisable as the boy’s, he said.

Coun McLaughlin said his life changed when he was driving a bus full of passengers home from a holiday in Italy in April 1994.

As they passed Lille in France a young man committed suicide by deliberately driving up the wrong side of the motorway and crashing head-on into the coach, he said.

After civil proceedings in France, which lasted 16 years until 2010, he received compensation totalling more than £150,000, for post traumatic stress.

It was while having to travel to Newcastle for hospital treatment for that condition that he decided to move to the North-East in 1994.

Coun McLaughlin said he had been “devastated” by the man’s allegations of sexual abuse.

He said: “I can’t explain what the last two years have been like, not just for me but for my family with what they have had to put up with.”

The jury has been told this is a retrial and the proceedings late last year were abandoned after one of the chief prosecution witnesses was taken ill and could not continue.

Coun McLaughlin said his house was put under surveillance by the police in case of any attacks  following newspaper reports of the case.

He said: “It is not pleasant when you are spat at out in a town where you have worked hard to try to help.”

He said a supermarket assistant had walked away and refused to serve him because she "didn’t like people like me".

The trial continues.