Woman on sex charges faces new trial as jury fails to reach a verdict
A woman accused of sexually molesting a girl 15 years ago faces another trial after a jury failed to reach a verdict.
The Downpatrick Crown Court jury of six men and five women had deliberated for a total of three-and-a-half hours over two days before telling the court it could not agree on verdicts of guilt or innocence against 30-year-old Karen Walker.
The foreperson indicated to the court that the jury was hung.
Walker, from Bexley Road in Bangor, faces two charges of indecent assault and three counts relating to acts of gross indecency with a child on dates between January 1, 1998 and January 17, 2000, when her alleged victim was between seven and 10 years old.
Opening the case against Walker last Monday, prosecuting lawyer Samuel Magee claimed Walker touched the girl's private parts and incited the alleged victim to touch her after telling her: "I'll be the man and you be the woman."
He told the jury that sometimes Walker reversed the ascribed roles, but that she told her alleged victim the sexual activity was "our wee thing".
Mr Magee said while he accepted Walker herself would have been a young teenager at the time of the alleged abuse, "she was old enough, we say, to know what she was doing and to comprehend how inappropriate her actions were".
The lawyer described how the alleged victim could remember the first incident when Walker convinced her to change her lower clothing to tracksuit bottoms before allegedly touching her private parts.
"She even remembers the brand of tracksuit bottoms," said Mr Magee, adding that it was the Crown's case she changed at Walker's behest "to make it easier for the defendant to access the young girl's intimate parts".
The jury watched a 55-minute video of the alleged victim's interview with police where she claimed that incident wasn't a "one-off".
She further claimed there were other incidents where she was touched inappropriately or when Walker "got on top of her and began rubbing herself" against the girl.
Walker was arrested and interviewed about the allegations in August last year, but denied any wrongdoing.
Giving evidence on her own behalf, Walker maintained her claims that she had done nothing wrong and had not engaged in any sexual activity with the child.
Following the jury's hung verdicts yesterday, Mr Magee told Judge Kerr there would be a retrial and asked for the case to be listed this Tuesday to set a date for that.