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Man on trial for alleged abuse of girls at children’s home

Man on trial for alleged abuse of girls at children’s home

A 73-year-old man has gone on trial accused of molesting two young girls at a children's home in the 1970s.

Michael Coughtrey allegedly abused the youngsters on occasions when he went to pick up his wife who had worked at the home in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

Opening his Old Bailey trial, prosecutor Peter Shaw said one girl had complained to staff at the time but did not feel that she would be "supported or believed".

Police launched an investigation in 2014 after another ex-inhabitant of the Woolmer Drive home recognised a former staff member at a Sainsbury's checkout.

She told her that Coughtrey had "fiddled" with her when she was a girl and was advised to report it to the police, Mr Shaw said.

Investigators then spoke to the then-manager of the home who told them about the earlier allegation of sex abuse in the 1970s, he said.

Police tracked down the second woman who told them Coughtrey had "interfered" with her when she was aged six or seven.

Although he told her to keep it a secret, she told staff what was going on but "got the distinct impression she was not going to be supported or believed", Mr Shaw said.

She came to feel disgusted at what Coughtrey had done and hated him, jurors were told.

After Coughtrey was arrested in March last year, he told police that his wife had worked at the home and he would often visit to collect her.

While there he would sometimes read stories to the children and recalled the girls sitting on his lap, but denied sexually assaulting them, saying he would have had a book in his hands.

Coughtrey, of Spalding, Lincolnshire, denies six counts of indecent assault. One charge relates to a girl aged between four and seven and five charges related to a girl aged between six and seven.