A jury found Andrew Howard not guilty of two counts of sexual activity with a child
A junior school headteacher has been found not guilty of sexual offences against a teenage boy.
A jury at Winchester Crown Court took just 50 minutes to return the verdict today (October 3) after hearing the case of Andrew Howard, 46, the suspended head of Velmead Junior School in Fleet.
Howard, of Mulberry Way, Chineham, had denied two counts of sexual activity with a child saying he never kissed the boy on the neck or told him he loved him.
During the course of the trial, he said the claims that he fondled the boy on the thigh and groin were also not true.
The boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has never been a pupil of Howard’s.
The offences were claimed to have taken place at the teacher’s home in Basingstoke and in a car between January 1 2010 and June 26 2011, and between January 1 2010 and December 31 2010, the jury heard.
The prosecution said Howard showered the boy with gifts, taking him to football, cricket and tennis matches and even buying him Olympic tickets, while continuing to fondle him on numerous occasions.
He was also said to have given the teenager, who was 14 and 15 at the time, football shirts, money and a mobile phone.
Howard told the jury of five men and seven women that he did give the boy money and gifts, and took him to football matches and other sports events, but was happy to do so and the boy’s parents knew about it.
Howard told the jury he considered himself to be a generous person.
“My income, relative to my outgoings, is considerable,” he said. “It’s about improving people’s lives. If I can do that I’m very happy to do it.”
Howard said the teenager had called him homophobic names, which he found particularly offensive as he was gay, having been in a relationship with a man called Ian from 2005 until 2011.
As a result of the claims, Howard did not return to Velmead School after the Easter break and deputy Sue Runciman is now acting headteacher.
Howard declined to comment after the verdict was announced but Mrs Runciman said: "Andrew Howard is a person of the utmost integrity and I have always been proud to be his deputy headteacher.
"It is my hope that he returns to the school but that is a decision for him and Hampshire County Council to make."