AN ex-assistant headteacher accused of performing a sex act in front of children at a Christmas party and sleepover told a jury he was asleep at the time and said: ‘I did not do that.’
Matthew Hill, 40, who taught at Lyndhurst Junior School in Crofton Road, North End, Portsmouth, before his arrest is accused of performing the act inches from a sleeping child’s face during his unconnected volunteer work.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard Hill was one of four adults supervising about 18 children aged between seven and 14 on the night of the alleged incident at Buckland Park Play Centre in Malins Road, Buckland. Portsmouth.
Hill, of Mallory Crescent, Fareham, denies outraging public decency by committing an act of a lewd, obscene and disgusting nature in the early hours while the children were asleep.
Asked by defence barrister Narita Bahra if he committed the crime, Hill replied: ‘Absolutely not, no.’
Asked what he was doing at the time site leader Nicola Andrews claims she saw him performing the sex act, Hill replied: ‘I was asleep.’
When Miss Bahra asked if Mrs Andrews had ‘just got this wrong,’ Hill, who has no previous convictions, said: ‘She has.’
During cross-examination by prosecutor Iain Wicks, Hill said his reaction was one of shock when confronted by Mrs Andrews and deputy play leader Sue Morey as he was definitely not performing a lewd act.
He said: ‘I was upset that someone I had known for 20 years had accused me of doing something I would regard as disgusting.’
Mrs Andrews told the court she confronted Hill after witnessing him committing the crime in the early hours, telling him to leave the centre before calling the police.
The court heard children had arrived at the centre from about 5.30pm and enjoyed a Christmas dinner, played games, made sweets, watched films and taken part in karaoke.
Some of them started settling down for the night from about 10.30pm.
Hill was initially sleeping on a mat on his own in the main hall in the same room as a group of children, while other children slept in a back room.
The court heard that Ms Morey, who was among the supervising adults in the main hall, was struggling to sleep that night.
She got up at 3.15am and she and Hill went outside together for a cigarette.
Shortly after their return Hill got up and said to a child that he was going to move into the back room because he was cold.
He picked up his bedding and was seen by Mrs Andrews, who had woken up in the back room, entering the room.
The court heard that shortly after 5am Mrs Andrews woke up again saw Hill performing a sex act.
Mrs Andrews said during evidence that he was about 12in (30cm) away from a child, who was asleep facing him, with his head in line with Hill’s midriff.
She said: ‘He had his eyes open and I didn’t know whether he was looking at [the child] or whether he was looking at his hand. I couldn’t be sure about it.’
Mrs Andrews later added: ‘I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and I coughed to make it sound as if I was waking up and moved around.’
Asked by Mr Wicks what happened next, she replied: ‘I then moved as though I was getting up and when I looked again he had put himself away and looked like he was asleep.’
The 12-strong jury heard Mrs Andrews got up and alerted Ms Morey who had earlier been concerned.
The pair went into the office area, but then Mrs Andrews went back out and told Hill she needed to speak to him in the office.
Mr Wicks said: ‘He was confronted by Nicola Andrews with what she had seen.
‘He denied it. He said he wouldn’t do anything like that, perhaps he had been asleep and he wouldn’t do anything like that.
‘Nicola Andrews told the defendant that he would have to leave and he obliged and did so.’
Ms Morey said while giving evidence that during the confrontation Hill said: ‘Well that’s my career down the pan.’
She later added that after he was let out of the gate Hill said: ‘This is going to be some merry Christmas.’
The court heard Hill sent a text message shortly after 6am that day. It read: ‘I can’t believe what’s happened I don’t know what you think you saw but I swear I’ve done nothing wrong. Please when you’re finished at work call me.’
But the police had already been called.
Officers arrived at Hill’s home at about 7.45am and he was arrested.
The court heard he complied fully with the custody process and forensic examination of his sleeping bag.
Hill was dismissed from his post at Lyndhurst Junior School on August 29 last year on the grounds that he had brought the school into disrepute and adversely affected its reputation.
He is alleged to have committed the offence in the early hours of December 23, 2012.