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Tremeloes stars hail indecent assault acquittal

Published 22/07/2016

Richard Westwood, left, and Leonard Hawkes are accused of indecent assault
Richard Westwood, left, and Leonard Hawkes are accused of indecent assault

Leonard "Chip" Hawkes, the bassist and a vocalist from the 1960s pop group The Tremeloes, said he and fellow band member Richard Westwood were "absolutely over the moon" after being acquitted of indecently assaulting a teenage girl after a gig almost 50 years ago.

The pair had been due to stand trial next year to face allegations that they assaulted a 15-year-old girl in a hotel room after a concert in Chester in April 1968.

But a judge at Reading Crown Court ordered both men to be found not guilty after the prosecution said it had no evidence to offer.

Mr Hawkes, 70, father of Nineties pop star Chesney, said outside the court that the pair were were delighted that a "black cloud" had been taken away by the verdict.

He said: "The past two years and seven months have been the worst time of our lives.

"Our families have had to endure the stress and media publicity and it's taken its toll on all of us."

Mr Hawkes, who has been battling bone cancer, said the case had badly damaged his career and revealed he had even been attacked by a member of the public before a previous court appearance.

Flanked by his wife Carol, an actress and game show host in the 1960s, he thanked the two men's families, friends and fans for their "unfailing loyalty and putting up with two grumpy old men".

Mr Westwood, The Tremeloes guitarist who sang lead vocals on the 1967 number one single Silence Is Golden, said his 50-year career had been "tarnished" on the basis of "spurious allegations" and that the accusations had caused "years of trauma".

In a statement read by his solicitor Victoria Gregory, he said: "It is too late for me and my family to get back the years of our life that have been destroyed in this process.

"We were punished and suffered for something that was simply not true."

The 73-year-old said he had faced trial by media before police had even gathered their evidence, and said: "It is a disgrace and wholly misleading that a single claim dating back more than 48 years ago was never properly investigated before my good character was attacked.

"The police must do more to strike the right balance in these cases because, as has been shown, they are certainly not doing so."

The allegations emerged in May 2013 when a woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, approached Staffordshire Police to make a complaint.

Prosecutor Owen Edwards said she specifically mentioned the Jimmy Savile case as having prompted her to make the complaint.

In an interview with police, she named Mr Hawkes and Mr Westwood as being two of four men who allegedly sexually assaulted her in the hotel room.

But further investigations found a diary entry allegedly written by the woman in 2009 gave a different account to the events she outlined in her interview.

After an examination of the inconsistencies, it was decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the two men.

Mr Edwards said: "The Crown Prosecution Service has reconsidered the case and in light of that further evidence the decision has been taken that there is no longer a realistic proposition of conviction."

Dismissing the charges and telling the men they were free to go, Judge Alexia Durran said: "I have decided not guilty verdicts in both your cases; that means you are discharged from any further involvement in this matter."

She also ordered that both men should have their travel costs reimbursed.

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From Belfast Telegraph