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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Cumbrian trainee teacher cleared of abducting boys

A trainee teacher who was accused of “abducting” five 12-year-old boys by taking them on unauthorised trips has been cleared by a jury.

John Dougan photo
John Dougan

Related: Boys ‘mocked teacher for being gay’, Carlisle court told

John Dougan, 20, was accused after he got to know the youngsters while volunteering for youth organisation in west Cumbria, Carlisle Crown Court was told.

He denied ever doing anything wrong during the trips in his own car to destinations that included Maryport, Whitehaven, St Bees, Cockermouth and Allonby.

The youngsters told police how the second year trainee teacher bought them drinks, chocolate, and cigarettes.

Mr Dougan, of Chaucer Road, Workington, pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of child abduction, claming that he was not told the rules of the organisation.

The jury declared him not guilty of all the allegations.

During the trial, the prosecution had claimed that Mr Dougan’s induction with the organisation had included a warning to not take children on unsupervised trips.

The advice specified the need for parental consent and that volunteers should not be left alone with children unless it was necessary for the job, the court was told.

But Mr Dougan said the organisation never gave him a volunteers’ “starter pack.”

The prosecution case focused around a series of five days out when Mr Dougan took the boys out at various times.

On each occasion, he gave the boys lifts in his own car and the parents of each child later said they would not have given their permission had they known.

One child told police Mr Dougan showed him a picture of his naked lower body on his mobile phone – but Mr Dougan said the child had glimpsed the picture by chance after seeing the phone in his car.

Mr Dougan said he immediately deleted the picture to prevent a recurrence.

When confronted by a staff member about the phone picture, Mr Dougan said that he was gay but that he was “not a paedophile”.

He said he had taken the boys out because they were bored, repeating that he did not know the rules on trips.

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