Northern Ireland news

Prosecution to decide if accused (86) in rape case will face retrial

THE prosecution in the case of an 86-year-old man suffering dementia will decide next week whether he should face a retrial accused of raping and sexually abusing a teenage girl four decades ago.

A Belfast Crown Court jury, sitting in Antrim, reported they could not decide on verdicts on the 14 offences faced by Thomas McNaughten, from Princes Avenue in Newtownabbey.

However, the jury of seven men and five women did determine he "did not do the acts complained of" in the case of two other teenage girls who were also resident at the former Whiteabbey girls' training school in the late 1970s to mid 1980s where he was a house master.

Trial Judge Richard Greene then dismissed the jury on being told even if given more time to discuss matters, they could not reach even majority determinations on one charge of rape and 13 of indecent assault faced by the pensioner.

Mr McNaughten was not in court to hear the jury's determinations having been excused throughout the week-long case given his mental capacity and inability to follow proceedings or able to instruct counsel.

Prosecution counsel said they would need until next week to decide if the case will be brought before a new jury.

Should there be a retrial it will not decide on whether the former house master is guilty of any criminal offence, but rather determine as in the current hearing, given Mr McNaughten's dementia, if he "committed the acts complained of".

 

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