A RETIRED British Gas fitter charged with a series of sex attacks on a young girl in the 1970s has described his accuser as "volatile" and a "crank", a court has heard.

Raymond Anthony Tunstall Jr, 59, has told jurors he was shocked and felt sick when historical allegations were brought against him alleging he attempted to rape a girl and incite her commit sex acts with him more than 40 years ago.

A series of indecent incidents are claimed to have taken place in Darlington, including in South Park, at a time when Mr Tunstall Jr would have been a teenager.

Now a grandfather-of-two, from the Hopetown area of Darlington, Mr Tunstall Jr stands trial accused of eight counts of serious sexual offences involving a child.

He denies all allegations and gave evidence at Teesside Crown Court yesterday to describe his shock at being brought to trial over the claims that first came to light in 2017.

Mr Tunstall Jr said: "I was very shocked at the allegations. I didn't know what to say, I was shocked."

The court heard Mr Tunstall Jr recalls being confronted with the allegations by two women, but one of the women hugged him at the end of the conversation. He said: "I thought she was a crank."

The former gas fitter and gas safety assessor also denied ever visiting a den in Croft where some of the abuse is alleged to have taken place.

He added: "I never had a den anywhere - I recall one behind Polam Hall, off Quaker Lane, which was quite posh with cushions, but we found out belonged to skinheads so we left it.

"I wouldn't have known how to get to Croft and I knew nothing about it at the time. I only would have known about Croft when I started working for British Gas when I was 16."

An ex-girlfriend of Mr Tunstall Jr also gave evidence to state she was never made to feel uncomfortable with him, describing him as a "perfect boyfriend" when the pair were teenagers.

She also denied ever saying she would not get involved in the case after having a chance meeting with Mr Tunstall Jr's accuser outside Morrisons supermarket on Darlington's North Road in 2017.

Prosecutor Paul Abrahams stated on behalf of his client that she recognised the woman outside the supermarket before asking her to come to court in connection with the prosecution's case.

In the witness stand, the ex-girlfriend said: "I thought it was weird some lass would come up to me and say she was suing [Mr Tunstall Jr] for interfering with her."

The trial continues.