Essex firemen 'initiation' abuse trial: Two men cleared

image copyrightBBC Laurence Cawley
image captionThe trial heard the incidents "went beyond any acceptable practical joke"

Two former senior firefighters have been cleared of indecently assaulting new recruits in workplace initiation ceremonies.

Prosecutors told a trial that novices at Tilbury fire station in Essex were subjected to degrading "pranks".

Anthony Benham, 50, of Stanford-le-Hope and Ian Maguire, 55, of Benfleet, both denied four charges of indecent assault and 10 of false imprisonment.

The jury at Basildon Crown Court found them not guilty of all charges.

The trial heard the alleged offences took place between late 80s and 90s.

'Muscle relaxant'

Firefighters claimed they were tied to a stretcher and hung up in the air, locked in a small room which was filled with water and then urinated upon through a skylight window.

One man alleged he had ice blocks attached to his private parts, while another claimed he had a muscle relaxant rubbed over his private parts.

Prosecutor Stephen Rose claimed the incidents "went beyond any acceptable practical joke".

Both defendants no longer work for the fire service. Mr Maguire later joined the police and Mr Benham retired because of ill health, the court heard.

Tilbury fire station closed in 1997.

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