Warblington School teacher trial: Defence claims police investigation was 'nonsense'

THE lawyer defending a teacher accused of having sex with pupils has claimed there was collusion between the alleged victims while also slamming the police investigation as ‘nonsense’.

Thursday, 18th July 2019, 3:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th July 2019, 4:04 pm
Sean Aldridge. Picture: Solent News & Photo Agency

PE teacher Sean Aldridge, 37, is accused of preying on four girls aged 13 to 16 at Warblington School, Havant, between 2006-2012.

Aldridge is said to have groomed the girls before having clandestine sexual meet-ups with the girls in his office and the PE washroom.

But as DCI Paul Longhurst was being cross-examined by defence lawyer Heather Stangoe at Portsmouth Crown Court, it was suggested the girls were in cahoots.

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Sean Aldridge. Picture: Solent News & Photo Agency

‘The defence was concerned about the interaction between complainants at the beginning and during the investigation. You knew two of the girls had been in touch but you never examined the phones to see if there was contact,’ Ms Stangoe said.

The lawyer also stated that phone billing records were not obtained by police.

But DCI Longhurst said: ‘If someone is not a suspect of a crime it is not policy to do this.’

Ms Stangoe called the approach ‘nonsense’ before criticising police for not picking up a Facebook post between two of the alleged victims. ‘This was again not picked up by your analysts,’ she said.

The officer replied: ‘You would have to say it wasn’t.’

The defence lawyer also stated there were questions over access to the areas where the alleged encounters took place.

‘You don’t know what doors were locked and are unable to say whether there was any restricted access at any time. You are also unable to say how many people had access to the keys and department,’ Ms Stangoe said.

But prosecutor Robert Bryan asked DCI Longhurst whether police had ‘hidden anything’, to which the officer replied: ‘No.’

Referring to the telephone billing, Mr Bryan asked whether wifi or 3G contact using platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook messenger would show up. DCI Longhurst said: ‘I don’t believe it does.’

Asked by the prosecutor whether there was any indication of contact between the girls, DCI Longhurst added: ‘Nothing at all.’

Dad-of-two Aldridge, of Edmund Road, Southsea, denies 28 counts of sexual activity with pupils.

(Proceeding)