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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Sex assault claims 'made up', coach driver tells Carlisle court

A coach driver accused of sexually assaulting a teenage schoolboy on trips abroad told the police his alleged victim made up the allegations after he refused to lend him £20,000.

Related: Carlisle coach driver denies sexually abusing boy

Peter McLaughlin, 61, said there was no truth in any of the allegations against him, a jury of 10 women and two men at Carlisle Crown Court were told.

He told detectives that, being gay, he was always careful not to put himself “in an awkward position” with other people, and he had never been alone in a foreign hotel with his alleged victim.

But he said that when his alleged victim was about 16 he had made homophobic comments about him and his then partner Ian Bell, with whom he lived in Greystone Road, Carlisle. And many years later the boy – then grown-up – had phoned him asking for the loan.

It was only after that, the court has heard, that the alleged victim went to the police to make a formal complaint about McLaughlin’s sexual behaviour.

McLaughlin, who now lives in Stanley, County Durham, is accused of deliberately befriending the boy so he could sexually abuse him on the regular trips he made abroad while working as a driver for Redcrest Holidays in the 1990s.

He has pleaded not guilty to 15 charges of indecent assault, covering various kinds of sexual abuse from 1990 to 1993.

The alleged victim has told the court that he and McLaughlin had to share beds in the hotels they stayed in during their trips abroad.

In evidence he described the trips as “a big adventure” and said McLaughlin had been “very friendly” and “fun to be around.”

And, asked if he thought it strange when McLaughlin told him to take all his clothes off before getting into his hotel bed, he replied: “I didn’t think anything of it, to be honest. I had no reason to be untrusting or fearful of him. I had no reason to be scared.”

The court has heard he went to the police following talks with a counsellor, after he told his wife and other close relatives what had happened to him as a child.

The court heard that when interviewed under caution by the police last year McLaughlin said the boy had never even been on a coach trip with him.

And asked if the teenager had stayed in a foreign hotel with him, he replied: “No, never ever. No way.”

He said he could never have shared a room with the boy because he always had to share with one of the other Redcrest drivers.

And he said he could not have abused the boy at his home either because it was always busy with other drivers, most of whom looked upon him as “a father figure” and regularly visited.

When police asked him if there was any truth in the claims, the court heard, McLaughlin replied: “No, no. None whatsoever.”

The trial continues.

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