Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Head teacher Andrew Howard cleared of fondling boy

A head teacher accused of fondling a teenage boy has been cleared.

Andrew Howard, of Basingstoke, Hampshire, admitted hugging the boy, who was under 16, but said it was not in a sexual way.

The 46-year-old teacher was suspended from his position as head of Velmead Junior School in Fleet.

The Winchester Crown Court jury returned unanimous not guilty verdicts on two counts of sexual activity with a child.

Judge Andrew Barnett told Mr Howard he could "leave the court without a stain on your character".

Olympic tickets

It was alleged the abuse took place at Mr Howard's home and in a car during 2010 and 2011.

He told the court he "never" sexually touched the teenager or kissed him on the neck.

The teacher said he had hugged the boy when he said hello or goodbye, or to comfort him when he was upset.

The complainant, who cannot be named, has never been a pupil of Mr Howard's.

The jury heard that Mr Howard, from Chineham, confided in the teenager that he was gay and took him to football, cricket and tennis games and bought him Olympic tickets, but that the parents knew about it.

The boy, who is now 18, also received football shirts, money, a mobile phone and other gifts, the court heard.

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