Rothbury indecent assaults trial: Day five, morning

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A Rothbury teacher took new gym shorts around to the house of a pupil and asked her to try them on before trying to follow her upstairs, a court heard this morning.

Joseph Kinnear, 59, of East Newtown Cottages, Rothbury, 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 Beaumont Middle School in Hexham and Dr Thomlinson’s Middle School in Rothbury.

This morning, the court heard from the parents of one of the alleged victims, who gave evidence earlier this week and cannot be named for legal reasons.

Her mother described how Kinnear seemed very friendly and would visit the house on regular occasions and ‘make himself at home’.

She said that he would bring his daughter home from school following after-school activities and that he had brought her a manicure set as a gift, after discussing the fact that she bit her nails.

Another time, he brought new PE shorts around to the house and suggested her daughter tried them on, she claimed.

“She was going upstairs to try them on and Joe Kinnear was going to follow her upstairs and I said ‘just a minute, she will be down when she’s got them on’,” she said.

Defending, Mark Barlow suggested that the kit had been provided by the school outfitters as it was set to be the new sports clothing, but the witness said she didn’t remember this being mentioned.

On another occasion, her daughter had not returned from school on the bus as expected ahead of her piano lesson. She turned up with Kinnear who said she had wanted to stay behind at school to watch a football match.

Mr Barlow asked why in her statement to police she had said that the piano teacher rang her, while in court she said that she rang the teacher, asking whether her memory may not have been clear on the incident.

But the mother said that she had been thinking more about the incident due to the impending trial and she did make the phone call.

The jury heard that ahead of this trial the alleged victim had told her mother what had happened.

“She told me she had been sexually abused by Mr Kinnear. She didn’t tell me all of the details because she wanted to spare me that,” she said. “She said he had assaulted her with his fingers and made her touch him.”

The alleged victim’s father told the court about another incident in which a car was sitting on the road outside their house for some minutes before it drove down the driveway and Kinnear and his daughter got out and came into the house.

At the time, he worked away from home a great deal - ‘too much’, he said.

He said that he was surprised at the familiarity with which Kinnear came in and spoke to his family.

He subsequently spoke to the school’s then deputy head about the ‘total familiarity’ the accused had shown.

Responding to questions from the defence, he told the jury that he was told that there was ‘nothing untoward in his (Kinnear’s) behaviour’, but that after that point, Kinnear didn’t return to visit the house.

Mr Barlow asked whether Kinnear was a friendly, outgoing type of person, to which the father said ‘very much so’. Too much so? he was asked. “On reflection, evidently,” he replied.

The trial continues.