• Tue. May 21st, 2024

Man, 32, cleared of sexually assaulting 12-year-old girl

Byoxfordnewspaper

Sep 19, 2022

A man was cleared of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl over the Easter holidays.

Sean Spooner, now 32 and of no fixed address, blew the air from his cheeks and massaged the stress ball held in his left palm as he heard the jury had cleared him of eight counts – including sexual assault by penetration and causing or inciting a child under-13 to engage in sexual activity.

Jurors took less than a day to reach the unanimous not guilty verdicts, after hearing four days of evidence and speeches.

During the trial at Oxford Crown Court, the 12-strong jury was told Spooner was alleged to have repeatedly groped the then 12-year-old girl during the school holidays.

Spooner, who knew the girl’s relative, was also accused of giving the girl a ‘love bite’, simulating sex with her and trying to get her to touch his genitals.

The allegations came to light later in the year, when the girl’s mother learned of her daughter’s claim of having been touched by the man.

The mother told the relative, in whose home the abuse was alleged to have taken place, to ‘keep that f***ing paedo away’ from the family.

Spooner denied wrongdoing, with it suggested that the allegations had been made up following a falling out with the complainant’s relative.

Characterising the claim as the ‘woman scorned’ explanation, prosecutor Philip Farr described it as ‘no more than a flimsy device, effectively a red herring, effectively the only excuse the defendant can give’.

When she was cross-examined by Spooner’s barrister, Nicholas Robinson, the now teenage complainant denied making-up her account.

At a previous hearing, which had been video-recorded and was played to the jury on Tuesday, the girl was asked: “He didn’t slap or grab your bum. Is Sean right about that?” She replied: “No.”

The defendant had post-traumatic stress disorder and had suffered a brain injury that left him with memory loss, the jury was told. He was assisted in the dock by an intermediary, a person paid by the court to help explain the proceedings to the defendant.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward