Page last updated at 20:30 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

No retrial in 40-year abuse case

Michael Brooks pictured in the 1970s or 1980s
Michael Brooks, 66, committed several offences including indecent assault

Three men will not face a retrial on charges of sex abuse dating back 40 years in Hampshire's New Forest.

Jurors failed to reach verdicts on counts against Michael Brooks, 66, Nico Sharque, 45, and John Wells, 58, at the end of their trial earlier this month.

The Crown Prosecution Service has now decided not to pursue a retrial.

However, Brooks was found to have committed other offences, including five indecent assaults. Patricia Harris and Peter Saville were also convicted.

Brooks, of Church Lane, Lymington, had been judged unfit to plead, but a Court of Appeal ruling meant the jury could decide on whether he committed the crimes.

He was found to have committed five counts of indecent assault, five counts of cruelty and one count of sexual activity with a child.

Harris, 57, of Hare Lane, New Milton, was found guilty of attempted rape. Saville, 64, of Winston Way, Ringwood, was found guilty of sexual activity with a child.

Peter Saville and Patricia Harris
Peter Saville and Patricia Harris will be sentenced on 28 November

The three defendants were accused of abusing six victims in the New Milton area of the New Forest between 1968 and 2007.

A victim has spoken about her ordeal following the decision not to pursue a retrial.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said of the guilty verdicts: "I screeched with joy and burst into tears, I have been waiting a very long time for this result. I was ecstatic.

"Whatever the outcome of the trial it was going to be the end of it for me. I was crushed into silence for many, many years.

"I just felt so alone, my childhood was a very, very sad lonely one."

Harris and Saville were remanded in custody and are due to be sentenced on 28 November.

Brooks is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Ch Insp Stuart Murray, senior investigating officer of Hampshire police, said the scale of the investigation was huge - costing the equivalent to a major murder inquiry.

Map of the New Forest in Hampshire
The accusations centred in the New Milton area of the New Forest

"We had to almost recreate the location to how it was in the 1970s and 1980s to trace the people we felt would have helpful information," he said.

He added there were difficulties due to the historical nature of some of the allegations.

"Around specific dates it made it difficult but some of these incidents were so memorable that people were never going to forget, but pining it down to exact days and months was very difficult."

The jury failed to reach verdicts on charges of five counts of rape against Brooks.

They also failed to reach verdicts on one count of indecent assault against Mr Sharque, of Rudd Close, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, and a charge of one count of indecent assault against Mr Wells, of St James Street, Brighton.

Four other defendants were cleared of abuse during the trial at Southampton Crown Court earlier this month.

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A victim has spoken about her ordeal after the decision not to pursue a retrial



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SEE ALSO
Trio convicted of child sex abuse
04 Nov 08 |  Hampshire
Two cleared of Forest child abuse
03 Nov 08 |  Hampshire
Jurors still out in abuse trial
31 Oct 08 |  Hampshire
Two not guilty of 1970s sex abuse
20 Oct 08 |  Hampshire
Nine accused in child abuse trial
23 Sep 08 |  Hampshire

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