Jack Mount abuse trial: Accuser 'devastated' by halted case

By Rebecca Woods
Broadcast Journalist BBC News Online

Jack MountImage source, PA
Image caption,
Jack Mount had been set to face three trials over the sex abuse allegations

A child sex abuse suspect's accuser has said he is "devastated" by the decision to halt the 97-year-old's trial.

Proceedings against former head teacher Jack Mount, which had been split into three parts, were ended this week due to his ill health.

An ex-pupil, who had been set to appear at the third trial, said he and others had been denied their "day in court".

Mr Mount was found not guilty after the first trial, and during the second a jury cleared him of three charges.

They were discharged after they failed to reach verdicts on other counts.

'Absolutely gutted'

The former head of Brookside School in Ludlow, Shropshire, denied 50 offences alleged to have taken place between 1954 and 1979.

Judge Geoffrey Mercer QC ruled the third trial should not proceed in light of the defendant's deteriorating condition.

The former pupil said he had been struggling to come to terms with the judge's decision.

"I am absolutely gutted I did not get to have my say," he told the BBC.

"I've had to lock it all away in my mind for all these years, and this was to be the time I was going to be able to tell my story.

"I do not think the case should have been split into three trials because it has dragged on and on. And now it has been dismissed because of his age and health.

"This should have been one trial and one jury."

Mr Mount suffers from Parkinson's disease, is visually impaired and uses hearing aids. He had an intermediary to assist him during the trials and cue cards were used to signal when he required a break, or could not hear proceedings.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Jack Mount faced four trials in the 1970s over allegations of abuse of boys and girls

Because of his age and health, the charges, which related to seven complainants, were set to be tried in three parts.

The judge ruled the case could be heard at Barnstaple Crown Court as it was close to the defendant's family home in South Molton, Devon.

"Jack Mount has been entitled to a fair trial, but we don't feel like we've been treated fairly at all," his accuser said.

However, the man did say he felt the police had been supportive and the Crown Prosecution Service had kept him informed about the case.

Had the third trial gone ahead, it would have been Mr Mount's seventh prosecution. He was tried four times in the 1970s over allegations of abuse of boys and girls but never convicted.

'Cases reviewed'

He was found not guilty of three rapes and one indecent assault, relating to two girls in the 1950s and 1960s, following the first trial in January and February.

The Second World War veteran was acquitted of two charges of buggery and six indecent assaults in the 1960s and 1970s after the second trial in April and May.

A jury was unable to reach verdicts on three counts of indecent assault, one of gross indecency and one of attempted buggery.

Prosecutors wished to retry Mr Mount on these charges, as well as counts relating to further complainants, in the third trial.

West Mercia Police commenced their latest investigation in 2012, reviewing previous investigations, including one in 1999 and the cases of the 1970s.

A spokeswoman for the force said: "Our priority now is to ensure that all those who have reported alleged offences to the police continue to have access to all the support they need."

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