Tuesday 31 March 2015

David Challinor Trial Halted

The trial of a social worker, charged with sexually assaulting a teenage boy at a children's home back in the late 1980s has been dramatically halted by the judge.
Judge David Hale discharged the jury from returning a verdict in the case of David Challinor this evening and said that the state of the identification evidence meant it was not safe for the trial to proceed.
He agreed to a defence submission that there was no case to answer.
It was the second piece of drama in the case today - because earlier the judge had to discharge a member of the jury because of what she had put on Facebook.
The judge said that it had been discovered that the woman, when first summonsed to jury service, had said so on her Facebook page - but had said that if she was involved in the trial of a sex offender then she would convict him.
It was agreed that the trial should continue with 11 jury members - but this afternoon it came to a complete halt.
The judge, sitting at Mold Crown Court, adjourned the case until the morning for the prosecution to decide whether it wished to appeal against his decision to the court of appeal.
He said that it was a discrete narrow point which had no bearing on any other case.
But he said that in his statement of complaint to the police, the complainant said that the care worker responsible for abusing him was nick-named Tiny, also known as Haystacks, after the wrestler Giant Haystacks.
In his evidence, the complainant said that he got that wrong in his police statement, and said that Tiny and Haystacks were two different members of staff.
However, later, when cross examined, he said that Haystacks was also known as Tiny.
Judge Hale said that seriously troubled him.
It was a very serious allegation and there was no other identification evidence.
The complainant was giving his evidence from behind a screen and if he saw the defendant he might say "that's not him."
He did not know the name of the man who abused him, and there was a real risk of a wrongful conviction.
The judge said that he was not sufficiently sure that the reference that it was the member of staff who allowed them to clay pigeon shoot who was responsible, took it any further.
The complainant had said that the member of staff also watched him in the shower but it was the defence case that he did not do shower duty.
Judge Hale said that other issues being put forward by the defence such as getting the defendant's age wrong, the delay in reporting the matter and other issues were clearly matters for the jury.
But the identification evidence meant that a jury could not be sure that the person he was talking about was the defendant and there was a risk of the wrong person being convicted.
"I am going to discharge you from giving a verdict in this case.
"As far as you are concerned, that is the end of the proceedings," he said.
Challinor was told to return in the morning to hear whether the proceedings were over or whether the prosecution wished to appeal.
David Challinor, 54, denied a charge of indecently assaulting the boy aged 15 - now a man in his 40s -  at the Bryn Alyn Home near Wrexham where he was a staff member.
Challinor, of Pinfold Lane, North Hall, arrested as part of Operation Pallial -  launched to investigate allegations of historic sexual abuse in children's homes -  told police in his interview that he would never do such a thing.
Arrested in October 2013, Challinor told police "I have not done anything".
He agreed that he was known as "Tiny" because of his large build, but denied that he was ever called "Haystacks".
Challinor said that he had not been aware of children being abused at the home at the time, and only found out about it later.
But he had not been involved and would never do such a thing, he said.
He said that he was shocked by the allegations. He had been employed as a social worker for 30 years and as far as he was concerned had a good relationship with young people in his care.

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