A FORMER grammar school teacher has been cleared of sexually assaulting a teenage girl – on three occasions.
Colin Bell, 44, who taught at Westcliff High School for Girls, was accused of carrying out the assaults between January 1, 2013, and April 24, 2013.
Bell, of Rebels Lane, Great Wakering, denied the offences and has been acquitted by a jury at Basildon Crown Court last week.
The Echo can now report the verdict because press restrictions made in order not to prejudice a second trial Bell faced over indecent images of children have been lifted.
Following the verdict, Bell admitted a single charge of making an indecent image of a child and was handed an absolute discharge. Other charges were allowed to lie on file.
During the trial opening, prosecutor Andrew Jackson said Bell’s alleged victim “trusted him completely” and he “took full advantage” of that trust.
He said: “She realised his intentions were sexual and she told him that she didn’t want that.”
The court also watched a video interview with the teenager, in which she said Bell became “angry” after she rejected his advances.
She said: “He laughed and said; ‘That’s absolutely pathetic’. He was quite angry, like he wasn’t getting his way.”
Bell was also originally charged with two counts of making indecent images of children relating to material downloaded from the internet and one charge of possessing extreme pornographic images.
One set of images was allegedly downloaded between February 2005 and March 2012.
Another set of about 120 images was allegedly downloaded between March 2007 and March 2012.
The extreme images charge related to a period between March 2007 and March 2012.
It has not been made clear which charges were left on file.
The second trial was scheduled to take place in June – and it is not clear why prosecutors offered no evidence.
It is also not clear why Bell was allowed to enter a plea to the second indictment immediately after the trial.
The Echo asked the Crown Prosecution Service which charges were left on file and to explain the decision but we did not receive a reply after one day.
We asked again the following day and we were told nobody was available to comment.
Bell left the school after his arrest in August 2015.