Jury deliberates in Portsmouth child abuse case

Increase in complaints against Hampshire police

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THE jury in the trial of a Scout leader accused of abusing young boys has begun trying to reach its verdicts.

Nick Thorpe, master of a Portsmouth Scout group, is alleged to have plied two boys with alcohol before abusing them at his home.

He denies assaulting the pair, who were under 16 and cannot be named for legal reasons, between 1996 and 2005.

In his closing speech Matthew Farmer, defending Thorpe, told the jury at Portsmouth Crown Court the prosecution’s case was ‘wholly unsatisfactory’ and ‘deeply troubling and worrying’.

‘I would urge you to acquit this man of all these charges,’ he said.

He described Thorpe, who has been involved with the Scouts for 27 years, as a respected leader with a heart of gold.

He added: ‘The prosecution, I suggest, are really scraping the bottom of a barrel that relies on the uncorroborated word of two men in difficult circumstances, years later when it’s very hard to deal with.

‘I think you could never be sure in these circumstances.’

The first alleged victim, who is now in his 30s, went to the police 15 years after he says the abuse happened after seeing a photo of Thorpe with a group of Scouts in The News last year.

He said he was worried the 48-year-old postman could be abusing other boys.

The second set of allegations surfaced months later when another former Scout, who is now in his 20s, told a nurse he had been abused.

Thorpe, of Thorncroft Road, Fratton, Portsmouth, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of rape and one of indecent assault relating to one boy and one of indecent assault and gross indecency with a child relating to another.

The jury of five men and seven women spent 45 minutes trying to reach verdicts yesterday and will continue deliberations on Monday morning. (Proceeding)