Jury discharged after failing to reach verdict in Brighton child sex abuse case

Posted On 08 Aug 2017 at 9:04 pm

A jury has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict in the trial of a Brighton man charged with child sex abuse.

The judge Stephen Lennard brought the case to a close yesterday (Monday 7 August) although the Crown Prosecution Service is considering whether to seek a retrial.

William Burrell-Ashbee, 27, of Howard Place, Brighton, stood trial the previous week at Lewes Crown Court charged with abusing a schoolgirl between dates in February 2012 and September 2014.

Her name cannot be reported for legal reasons.

The court was told that Burrell-Ashbee was a trusted family friend when he tried to rape the girl and sexually assaulted her.

He denied all five charges, two of attempted rape, two of sexual assault and one of inciting a child to sexual activity.

Mr Recorder Lennard sent the jury out on Friday (4 August) after his summing up and they also spent yesterday deliberating.

But when they were unable to agree whether Burrell-Ashbee was guilty, the judge discharged them.

Burrell-Ashbee not only denied all the charges but first brought the claims of abuse to the attention of Sussex Police himself.

He went voluntarily to police in 2014, he said, because he wanted to clear his name.

But the matter was not investigated until May 2015 when the girl and her family reported their claims.

A decision on whether to seek a retrial is expected within a fortnight.

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