A jury was told to set aside prejudice and emotion and to assess the evidence before deciding whether a former Rothbury teacher is guilty of a string of indecent assaults.
Joseph Kinnear, 59, of East Newtown Cottages, is standing trial at Newcastle Crown Court after pleading not guilty to 14 counts of indecent assault dating back to between 1975 and 1982.
At the time, Kinnear was a teacher at Dr Thomlinson’s Middle School in Rothbury and Beaumont Middle School in Hexham.
In his closing statement today, Mark Barlow, defending, said: “It’s the prosecution which brings this case, they are the ones that have brought Mr Kinnear here and it’s their responsibility to prove their case so that you can be sure of guilt. That’s the test and it’s a high test.”
He also highlighted some of the difficulties in the evidence, including the fact that the offences date back to the late 1970s/early 1980s.
“Delay causes difficulties for anyone, it causes difficulties for complainants in any case and it causes difficulties for the defendant,” he said.
“You have to come to a view on the reliability, honesty and credibility of a witness.”
Opening his closing statement, Michael Hodson, prosecuting, said: “What are the qualities of a predator? The ability to make the best and most successful use of camouflage, the ability to move with stealth, unseen among the herd, the ability to avoid being the object of detection by the animal’s parents or by those in the herd close to the animal targeted by the predator.”
In the same way as you cannot tell what someone likes to eat by looking at them, ‘nor can you tell what sort of sex somebody likes by looking at them’, he said.
“You can’t tell a paedophile by the way he looks and behaves in ordinary society. Otherwise paedophiles would not get jobs as caretakers, nursery workers or indeed school teachers.
“It’s evidence and only evidence which can root out and positively identify the paedophile.
“Members of the jury, you have seen and heard for yourselves the heartache, stress and serious trauma of those who say they have been molested.”
Mr Hodson suggested Mr Kinnear charmed everyone with the ‘flamboyance and flair’ of what they thought was an ‘exceptional man and teacher’.
“No wonder Mr Kinnear has a huge following, no wonder Rothbury is split,” he added.
He also referred to the evidence heard by the jury yesterday afternoon from two of Kinnear’s former colleagues.
“The two defence witnesses are united in agreeing with the prosecution case against Mr Kinnear in that the letters and cartoons [sent to one of the alleged victims] break all the rules,” said Mr Hodson.
The trial continues.