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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Carlisle coach driver denies sexually abusing boy

A coach driver deliberately befriended a teenage boy so he could sexually abuse him on trips abroad.

Peter McLaughlin, 61, travelled all over Britain and Europe as a driver for Redcrest Holidays and regularly invited the boy to join him, it was alleged.

The pair had to share beds in the hotels they stayed in along the way, and it was there that McLaughlin took the opportunity to sexually assault the boy while watching porn films with him, a jury at Carlisle Crown Court heard. McLaughlin, who was in his late 30s at the time, is also accused of abusing the boy at the home he shared at the time with his partner Ian Bell in Greystone Road, Carlisle.

Prosecuting counsel Kim Whittlestone told the jury of 10 women and two men that McLaughlin had deliberately targeted the boy.

“This is a classic case where a young child has been groomed by an adult into believing that what was happening was normal.”

Ms Whittlestone said the boy thought McLaughlin was “cool and friendly” and looked upon his regular trips abroad as the sort of adventure his school friends were not having.

The court was told the first time the boy was abused was on a bus trip to Switzerland, when he ended up naked in bed with McLaughlin in a hotel.

“He had had the intention of grooming him from very early on in their relationship,” Ms Whittlestone said.

The court heard that as the boy got older he became less happy with what McLaughlin was doing to him, and “just went along with it” to please him.

As the boy grew up, Ms Whittlestone said, he realised he had been “manipulated and abused”.

He started confiding in people, and in March last year – after telling his wife, mother, doctor and a counsellor – eventually felt able to tell the police.

The alleged victim, giving evidence from behind a screen, said McLaughlin had been “very friendly” and “fun to be around”.

He told the jury: “He made me feel really good and special to have those opportunities at that time of my life. He cared for me. We had fun and laughed and chatted and did fun things on the buses and went places my friends did not go.”

McLaughlin, who lives in Stanley, County Durham, denies 15 charges of indecent assault, from 1990 to 1993.

The court heard that when interviewed McLaughlin denied all the alleged victim’s allegations. He said he had never stayed in hotels with him or taken him on continental trips.


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