Pensioner (75) cleared of raping boy

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A 75-year-old man accused of raping a 14-year-old boy at a home in Gedney has been cleared of all charges after the alleged victim was judged to have given “confused” evidence.

John Whitcombe (75) had always denied having sex with the boy and was cleared after a four-day trial at Cambridge Crown Court.

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 of sexual assault on a child.

The court had earlier heard evidence from police interviews in which the boy, now 16, said he had been raped twice by Mr Whitcombe, who now lives in Lyons Court, Chatteris.

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.”

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

The boy told police that Whitcombe raped him in the shower and the bedroom during a “sleepover” 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.”

He added: “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 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.”

Mr Whitcombe was also awarded costs of £60 – to cover his travel expenses to court.