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Date Posted: 11/05/10 3:54:04pm
Author: Mike (webmaster)
Subject: News : Gardener accused of sexual assaults

Title: Gardener accused of sexual assaults
Website: Northampton Chronicle and Echo www.northamptonchron.co.uk
Date: 07/05/2010
Link : Gardener accused of sexual assaults

Gardener accused of sexual assaults

Three boys at a Jesus Army community in Northamptonshire were sexually assaulted by the gardener, a court heard.

James Gardner, aged 63, is accused of subjecting the youngsters to repeated sexual assaults by offering them sweets as bribes, a jury heard.

The youngsters, who were under the age of 11 and cannot be named, were members of a Jesus Army Fellowship community based in a Northamptonshire village between February 1996 and October 1998.

Gardner, who has previous convictions for sexual offences against boys in Scotland, was employed at the community house as a gardener and grave digger when he is alleged to have sexually assaulted the boys in the cellar.

Matthew Lowe, prosecuting at Northampton Crown Court, said: "The defendant was never living there as part of the community, but living in Coventry and would commute there and spend some nights in a cellar room.

"That room was important because the offences took place there.

"Matters came to light on New Year's Day last year when two of the boys reported matter to members of the Jesus Army."

The jury heard how the boys, who moved away from the community, visited the cellar which triggered memories of what had happened years earlier.

As they reported this to an elder, another boy came forward with a similar complaint.

Mr Lowe said: "As well as using sweets as inducements, the defendant would say that this is what best friends do and they would not be best friends if it stopped.

"The battle lines you will have to resolve are clearly laid out because there is a straight denial by him."

Gardner, of Mulliner Street, Coventry, who denies four indecent assaults, was convicted of lewd and libidinous behaviour in 1994.

Mr Lowe added: "You will have to consider whether it's simply coincidence that those offences have remarkable similarities to these offences."

The trial continues.

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