Man cleared by jury of string of sex attacks

The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.
The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.

A man accused of sexually assaulting a young girl has been cleared of all charges.

Ephraim Smith, of Lindisfarne, Peterlee, stood trial this week at Teesside Crown Court on nine offences alleged to have been committed years ago.

Mr Smith, whose occupation was given in court as a labourer and lorry driver, denied the offences saying the alleged victim must have made up her account against him.

He told police he was married to a "lovely wife" and the couple has a "perfect" sex life which meant he had no reason to sexually abuse anyone.

Mr Smith, 50, denied nine charges of indecent assault of a child.

He was found not guilty of all charges by the jury after five hours of deliberation.

Judge Sean Morris thanked the jury for the "careful attention" they had paid to the case.

"It matters not which side of the divide you were on," added the judge.

"You all did your job which is the most important thing."

The judge told Mr Smith he was free to leave the court.