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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Man cleared of 'internet rape' charge
A 50-year-old man has been cleared of attempting to rape a teenage girl he met via an internet chatroom and was allegedly found naked in his car.

The prosecution offered no evidence against Sephton Allen, of Shakespear Street, Derby, who had pleaded not guilty to attempted rape, indecent assault and indecency with a child.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that Allen and a 14-year-old girl had been allegedly found by her father naked under a duvet in the defendant's car.

But Tim Parkin, for the prosecution, told the court on Friday there were "enormous evidential difficulties" if the case was put before a jury because the girl had tried to pass herself off as being 17.

Age deception

The defendant met the girl via an internet chatroom and he agreed to meet her in Hexham, Northumberland, in January.

Allen was arrested, and later charged, after the girl made a number of allegations.

Mr Parkin told Judge Michael Cartlidge: "She was with two friends when they first saw the defendant and she was telling the friends to say that she was 17."

Mr Parkin said the case was "sensitive" and that the complainant had been told of the prosecution's decision.

Tony Davis, for Allen, said his client's defence throughout was that the meeting was "driven" by the girl.

Judge Cartlidge made no order over defence costs and questioned whether Allen had "brought the case upon himself."

Allen was not in court and his solicitor declined to comment afterwards.




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