Jury on Wigan sex abuse case face 'difficult task' over verdict

A jury has heard how a convicted Wigan paedophile allegedly abused two young girls in incidents spanning almost 30 years.
The hearing took place at Bolton Crown CourtThe hearing took place at Bolton Crown Court
The hearing took place at Bolton Crown Court

Ronald Peters, 73, sat in the dock at Bolton Crown Court yesterday as barristers addressed the court for the last time during the six-day hearing, which began on Tuesday last week.

Peters, of Petticoat Lane, Ince, is accused of nine charges of crimes against girls under the age of 14 including indecent assault against a girl under the age of 13 between 2012 and 2016 and gross indecency against a girl under the age of 14 between 1983 and 1988. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

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During the closing statements, the jury heard that the pensioner has already been convicted for two counts of sexual assault against another girl under the age of 16, in charges dating back to 1977.

The defence argued that the allegations were part of a “collaboration” between the two alleged victims and the victim of Peters’ previous convictions. Prosecutor Paul Dockery, referred to the previous convictions as the victim of those assaults gave evidence at the latest trial.

“You may conclude that this is a man who back in those days showed a tendency to have a sexual interest towards young girls,” he said. “Those are things similar to the allegations of the other two children.”

He told the jury that the victim from the 70s came forward in September 2016 after almost 40 years, but that she had told a friend and her brother about the assaults years before finally going to the police.

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“Was she thinking, in the future I will make a complaint against this man as part of a conspiracy to do this man down or was she telling somebody to get it off her chest.

“She (the victim) has berated herself in hindsight for not shouting for help or for not immediately or very soon after afterwards complaining to someone.”

During the course of the trial, the jury has been presented with prosecution evidence given by the two alleged victims, one of whom is 13 years old and evidence from the defence, which includes Peters’ two sons and his wife of 50 years.

Defence barrister, Stephen Swift, has argued that one of the alleged victims has made allegations in an attempt to get “pay back” following a row with Peters over finances. “I suggest it is important you are assessing the credibility,” he said. “When you stop and reflect there’s an enormous lack of detail.”

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He told the jury that they have a “difficult task” and may have “sympathy” for seeing a young girl crying while giving evidence.

The jury is expected to be sent out to consider their verdict today (Wednesday).