A pensioner accused of sexually abusing four children over a 37-year period has been cleared.
A jury at Liverpool Crown Court found 77-year-old Brian Coop not guilty of all 19 sex offences and he was discharged from the dock.
Unknown to the jury, during the eight-day trial Mr Coop’s wife suddenly died at the couple’s home in Hatton Avenue, Atherton, and the trial was temporarily halted.
After he left the dock a man among his supporters in the public gallery gave him a hug and they both wiped away tears. Outside the courtroom other supporters also broke down in tears of relief and were hugging the pensioner.
Three women and one man had alleged that while they were children Mr Coop had sexually abused them, with the alleged offences taking place between 1973 and 2010. It was claimed they ranged in age from seven to 16 when the alleged offences occurred.
Eric Lamb, prosecuting, told the jury that when quizzed by police after the allegations were brought to their attention in June last year Mr Coop said that “all four were making it up.”
Giving evidence he strenuosly maintained that their allegations were all completely false and had been fabricated. He pointed out that a video, taken when one of the women was in her 30s, showed her at a birthday party dressed in fancy dress and sitting on his knee.
Allegations by another complainant could not have taken place when she said, he told the court.
The hearing was told the case involved 17 offences of indecently assaulting one girl aged between eight and 12; a boy aged between the ages of seven and 11 and a girl when she was between seven and and 10. The other two charges related to more recent times and involved a third girl aged between 12 and 16.