Rape charge OAP found not guilty after court hears evidence was ‘hopelessly confused’

A FORMER March businessman accused of raping a 14-year-old boy has today been cleared of all charges after a judge branded evidence against him “hopelessly confused”.

In a trial spanning four days, Cambridge Crown Court heard that John Whitcombe, 75, had always denied sexual offences involving young boys.

This morning, under the direction of Judge Gareth Hawkesworth, a jury returned unanimous not guilty verdicts on two counts of rape, two counts of sexual activity with a child and one count of sexual assault on a child.

The court had heard police interviews and evidence from a 14-year-old boy that alleged that Whitcombe, of Lyons Court, Chatteris, had raped him twice at a luxury home in Gedney, South Lincolnshire, in 2009.

Judge Hawkesworth told a jury: “It would not, I suspect, have escaped your attention that the evidence of the boy, through no fault of his own, was hopelessly confused.

“There was a difficulty with dates because other evidence which was agreed would have meant that he could not have had access to the house at Gedney during 2009.”

Whitcombe was also cleared of one further count of sexual activity with a child and one count of possessing indecent photographs of children after the prosecutor Felicity Gerry offered no evidence.

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The boy, who is now 16, gave evidence to the court last week. He had told police that Whitcombe raped him in the shower and the bedroom during a “sleep over” at the Gedney home, which he described as “like a castle”.

Judge Hawkesworth said there had been “different accounts given as to what had happened and when.

“There was a basic inconsistency as to the second event - as to whether that had taken place at all.

“In conclusion I take the view that there was simply no evidence that a jury like yourselves could convict on.

“I want to stress that nobody is accusing that unfortunate young man of being a liar but it’s for the prosecution to prove the charges.”

The court heard that the allegation of sexual assault related to “three pats to the thigh just above the knee”. Judge Hawkesworth said: “I take the view, having considered all the evidence, that there was no way that the jury could convict on sexual assault.”

Whitcombe was also awarded costs of �60 - to cover his travel expenses to court.

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