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The BBC's Kevin Bouquet
"For Dave Jones it was the end of an ordeal"
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David Jones
"Hopefully it will not be long until I am back in a job"
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Tuesday, 5 December, 2000, 17:55 GMT
Ex-football manager cleared
Ann and David Jones
Ann and David Jones: Ordeal over
Former Southampton FC manager David Jones has been cleared of all child abuse allegations against him.

The case was halted after the prosecution said no evidence was being offered in his trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

There were cheers from Mr Jones's family as the not-guilty verdicts were announced.

After the verdict, a smiling and relieved Mr Jones he had been through a "total nightmare," adding that he was now looking forward to getting back to football.

The case was halted in the morning when a key witness declined to give evidence.

The judge discharged the jury following a direction to find Mr Jones not guilty on four of the 14 charges against him.

I just want to get back on with what I feel I do best, and that is get back into football

David Jones
Judge David Clarke told the jurors they could not return verdicts on the 10 remaining charges because they knew of the further allegations from the witness in question.

After the proceedings resumed in the afternoon, prosecuting counsel David Aubrey QC told the judge "it would not be right, proper or just" to seek a retrial on the charges after the jury had earlier been discharged.

'Big relief'

Judge Clarke recorded not guilty verdicts on the remaining 10 charges, prompting cheers from the public benches as the verdicts were recorded.

He told Mr Jones, 44, that he was leaving the court as he entered it, "an innocent man".

After the hearing, Mr Jones said the outcome of the trial had been a "big relief".

"I just want to get back on with what I feel I do best, and that is get back into football," he said.

Mr Jones was alleged to have targeted vulnerable young boys during his time as a care worker at a residential school on Merseyside in the 1980s.

He denied all the charges against him

The judge congratulated him on the "restraint and dignity" with which he had faced the charges.

"No doubt there will be people who are going to think there is no smoke without fire," he said.

'No wrong-doing'

"I can do nothing about that except to say such an attitude would be wrong.

"No wrong-doing whatsoever on your part has been established. Indeed many of the charges brought against you have not been pursued by those who brought them.

The jury of eight men and four women had not been told that Mr Jones had originally been arraigned on a total of 21 charges.

The last 18 months have been the worst nightmare of our lives

Ann Jones
But seven of those were not proceeded with after another two alleged victims - there were originally a total of six - also refused to give evidence.

Mr Jones played for Everton and Preston North End before a successful managerial career with Stockport County and Premiership side Southampton FC.

He declined to comment on his feelings towards his accusers and the investigation, saying he needed more time to be able to answer such questions.

'Lowest point'

He did say, however, that abuse allegations had to be investigated because he had children himself.

"The lowest point was being accused. It just came out of the blue, a total shock.

"I honestly thought that I went to the police station, I gave my statement, and that was going to be it.

"What followed on was an even bigger nightmare for us."

Mr Jones said the support of the Southampton players and chairman during his ordeal had been "exceptional".

Since Mr Jones was charged, his wife Ann has stood by him, insisting her husband was innocent.

"The last 18 months have been the worst nightmare of our lives," she said.

"I wouldn't wish it on our worst enemy. At this moment in time I feel emotionally drained."

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See also:

05 Dec 00 | UK
My total nightmare - Jones
05 Dec 00 | Football
Dave Jones biography
05 Dec 00 | Football
Jones reveals Saints backing
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