AN AWARD winning teacher has been cleared of sexually assaulting an eight-year-old boy.
Richard Burse was trying to calm the boy down because he was upset and not feeling well.
But the youngster told his mother Mr Burse had molested him after she watched a programme about child abuse on television and asked him about it.
Yasmin Punjani, defending, said there were significant differences in the boy’s story on the two occasions he was interviewed by police.
She said: ‘All Mr Burse tried to do was to be a good teacher, to support a child in distress and maybe he shouldn’t have bothered because where did he end up?’
She added: ‘He had an impeccable record - a man dedicated to youth work who after this allegation, as we know, couldn’t go back to school.’
She said Mr Burse had spent 20 years in youth work before he retrained to fulfil his dream of being a teacher.
The prosecution had claimed he assaulted the boy in ‘10 minutes of madness’.
Miss Punjani said: ‘Why would a man who had gone to such lengths to take up this vocation lose it for 10 minutes?’
The former scout leader Mr Burse, 38, was alleged to have assaulted the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in 2009. He always denied the charge.
After a four day trial at Portsmouth Crown Court the jury of seven men and five women took less than an hour to find him not guilty of sexual assault on a child under 13.
Judge Peter Henry said Mr Burse had received a number of awards for his teaching work.
Mr Burse, of Arundel Road, Tangmere, declined to comment as he left court.