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