THE TRIAL OF seven Shropshire men facing a series of allegations involving sexual exploitation and child prostitution collapsed this afternoon after running for more than three months.
Judge Robin Onions formally discharged the jury from returning verdicts on a total of 49 charges at Stafford Crown Court today.
The decision by Judge Onions was made for legal reasons and followed a series of submissions by defence barristers.
The jury was sworn in on May 16, but the opening of the trial was delayed by legal discussions until June 13. From August 19 there was a pre-arranged break in the trial until September 2 when defence counsel each made applications to the court over the case’s future.
Over the 15 weeks the trial has run the court was in session for 70 days during which time there were a series of legal arguments and the jury heard evidence from just six of the prosecution witnesses.
The Crown Prosecution Service must decide whether to seek re-trials for the defendants. The seven alleged victims were aged 13 to 17 at the time the offences were said to have been committed between September 2007 and December 2009.
Before being discharged, on the direction of the judge, the jury returned formal not guilty verdicts on a charge of sexual activity with a child against Mohammed Ali Sultan and charges of meeting a child following sexual grooming against Mahroof Khan and Tanveer Ahmed.
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