Abuse trial halted

PUBLISHED: 08:35 03 January 2007 | UPDATED: 10:23 24 May 2010

A Clevedon pensioner standing trial for eight sex offences against two young girls 40 years ago has walked free from court after a judge stopped proceedings.

A Clevedon pensioner standing trial for eight sex offences against two young girls 40 years ago has walked free from court after a judge stopped proceedings.

Ronald Smith was said to have molested one young girl repeatedly between the ages of seven and 15 and pounced on another young girl under the age of 14 once.

The 73-year-old, of Hayward Close, Clevedon, denied six charges of indecent assault and two charges of indecency with a child.

On the third day of his trial at Bristol Crown Court Judge Carol Hagen gave a ruling that the indictment the OAP faced should be stayed.

It followed an application by Stephen Mooney, defending, who claimed the evidence was weak and the trial was unfair because of a lack of independent evidence.

Judge Hagen said the evidence was not weak but conceded that there was a lack of it and stayed proceedings before discharging the jury on December 19.

In police interview the defendant had told officers one of the complainants was in "cloud cuckoo land" and "making up a fancy tale."

He claimed the allegations were made out of spite.

Smith, who was smartly dressed in a grey suit, listened to the proceeding from the dock with the help of a hearing aid before walking free.

The alleged victim of seven of the offences was said to have been disappointed the trial had collapsed.

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