Hung jury in trial of Gwent police officer accused of sexually assaulting schoolgirl
A jury have failed to reach a verdict in the case of a serving Gwent police officer accused of sexually assaulting a primary school girl.
John Stringer, 41 was on trial at Cardiff Crown Court having denied all five allegations against him.
The charges include two counts of sexual assault by touching, two counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity and one count of causing a child to watch a sexual act.
After a four-day trial and just under seven hours of deliberating, the jury of five men and seven women failed to reach a majority verdict.
The jury forewoman told Judge Daniel Williams KC that even with more time they would not be able to reach a decision.
The victim’s family appeared shocked as the forewoman addressed the judge.
Judge Daniel Williams KC told the jury: “It is not uncommon for juries not to be able to reach a unanimous or majority verdict.
“Can I thank you for the obvious care and attention that you have given this case?
“When you sit as jurors you have to make a number of sacrifices.
“You might think you haven’t done the job because you haven’t been able to reach a verdict, but the court is satisfied with the service that you have given.”
Judge Williams gave the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) until Friday August 11 to decide whether to retry the case.
The allegations relate to incidents that are said to have taken place between December 2019 and July 2021, and came to light when the victim made a disclosure to a primary school teaching assistant.
She told police that Stringer showed her a pornographic video and then forced her to go into another room and mimic the performer.
The girl also said he had sexually touched her underneath a blanket while another child was in the room.
When asked by an officer how it had made her feel, she replied: “Wrong.”
During the trial, Stringer told the jury he had an “immaculate record” during his almost decade-long career with the police.
Character references from four of his friends and associates were read in court in which he was described as a “caring”, “trustworthy”, “honest” and “genuine” man who would “do anything for anyone”.
Evidence found on Stringer’s iPhone 6, which was seized after his arrest, showed he had 4,000 searches for porn websites on his mobile phone, equivalent to almost one in every five of his internet searches over a five-year period.
Categories of videos he accessed included “masturbation” and “voyeur masturbation”, the court heard.
Under cross-examination, Stringer admitted he watched pornography “fairly regularly”, but insisted he would only do it when he was alone and that he always cleared his search history after doing so.
No indecent images of children were found on his mobile phone, the court heard.
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