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Jury to retire in trial of headteacher Andrew Howard
THE JURY in the trial of a Basingstoke headteacher accused of sexually touching a teenage boy is due to retire tomorrow to consider its verdict.
Andrew Howard, 46, of Mulberry Way, Chineham, is accused of two counts of sexual activity with a boy under the age of 16.
The now-suspended headteacher of Velmead Junior School, in Fleet, is accused of fondling the boy over his clothing on occasions in houses and in his car - offences Howard said never took place.
The alleged victim did not attend any of the schools where Howard has taught.
The trial had heard that Howard had bought the teenager gifts such as tickets to sporting matches and clothing. Howard said the teenager's parents knew about most of the gifts.
Today Matthew Jewell, prosecuting, and Katherine Kelleher, defending, made their final submissions.
Mr Jewell said the case against Howard was more subtle than "grooming" the victim with gifts, explaining that the relationship between the two could have been innocent at first.
But he added: "I am going to suggest that what may have happened was not grooming over the years, was not a conscious ploy, but that this defendant fell into temptation."
The alleged victim had told the court he made a complaint to the police after he said Howard told him he was gay, was attracted to him and offered cash to "change their relationship".
But Ms Kelleher said: "Andrew Howard is not Oscar Wilde. He's not on trial for his homosexuality.
"What I suggest should be your common sense conclusion is that it has been used against him to bring a great man down by a very disturbed young man."
She added that Howard had a "stratospheric" rise as a teacher and was married to a job in which he had responsibilities for the welfare of children.
Judge Andrew Barnett summed up the proceedings for the jury before telling them they will retire tomorrow morning.