Belfast Telegraph

Child sexual abuse claims a pack of lies, former school head tells jury

William Lloyd-Lavery is standing trial at Craigavon Crown Court
William Lloyd-Lavery is standing trial at Craigavon Crown Court

By Paul Higgins

A retired headmaster accused of the historical sex abuse of a boy yesterday labelled the allegations a "pack of lies".

Giving evidence to a Craigavon Crown Court jury on his own behalf, William Lloyd-Lavery (71) said the claims against him were "disgusting".

"I certainly did nothing of the kind," he told defence QC Ciaran Mallon, declaring: "I'm quite outraged by it."

Lloyd-Lavery, who was principal of Lurgan Technical College from 1992 to 1997 and is from Richmond Avenue in Lisburn, faces 13 charges.

They include seven counts of indecent assault, four of committing an act of gross indecency towards a child, one of inciting a child to engage in an act of gross indecency, and one of taking an indecent photograph of a child, all between December 29, 1980, and February 1, 1988.

It is the Crown's case that Lloyd-Lavery repeatedly abused the alleged victim between the ages of six and 13.

He is said to have touched him inappropriately, pleasured himself and incited the then schoolboy to touch him indecently, as well as taking a Polaroid image of the boy in a state of partial undress.

On Wednesday the complainant claimed Lloyd-Lavery repeatedly told him "not to say anything" about the alleged abuse and that the use of the camera "haunts me to this day".

The jury of four men and eight women also heard claims that last Monday, when the two men inadvertently met in the courthouse toilet, Lloyd-Lavery apologised to his alleged victim, with the prosecution inviting the jury to infer that it was "actually an apology for abusing him".

Questioned about the allegations, Lloyd-Lavery told Mr Mallon the account given by the complainant was "complete lies and nonsense, (with) no truth in it whatsoever".

He claimed that the complainant's contention that the living room door remained closed during the alleged abuse was wrong because it was "frequently open", with people in the busy household "going back and forwards" and to and from the adjacent kitchen.

Mr Mallon put the specifics of the allegations to Lloyd-Lavery, but the retired headmaster told the senior lawyer: "None of that is true. I never, ever did any of that. I find the idea completely revolting."

The jury has already heard that Lloyd-Lavery was questioned by police about the allegations in 1989 and that he denied any wrongdoing.

He told the court yesterday that when he first heard the allegations, he "could hardly believe them".

"You don't want to believe that a child could come up with that sort of stuff or make it up, but as the interview progressed I began to realise that there was real malice here," Lloyd-Lavery said.

Under cross-examination from prosecuting counsel Ian Tannahill, the defendant said he was "horrified" and "appalled" by the nature of the allegations when he first heard of them.

He told the lawyer he felt that resentment of his "happy family life" could be the motivation behind the claims.

"It's your belief that resentment in 1989 is the reason he is saying what he is saying?," asked Mr Tannahill.

"I'm saying it's an explanation, but what is important is that it did not and could not have happened," Lloyd-Lavery replied.

"Explaining his motivation isn't the point - the point is that it didn't happen.

"I have been falsely accused. It's an appalling accusation against me and it's so ill-deserved... you have no idea what it's put me through.

"It's a disgrace because I'm an innocent man."

Asked about the men's inadvertent meeting in the toilet, Lloyd-Lavery said that not having seen the complainant in 30 years, he didn't recognise him.

He told the jury that having used the toilet and washed his hands, "I walked past a person coming in. I don't know who the person was and I didn't see their face". He added that at most any noise he made "may have been a sort of grunt".

Mr Tannahill suggested to Lloyd-Lavery a "sensible solution" could be that having been brought to court to stand trial for alleged sex abuse, it was a shock to be confronted with the complainant "and you do say sorry".

"That's an erroneous explanation and it's wrong. It's a lie and, if you don't mind me saying, it's a typical lie where there are no witnesses who can verify what the other person is saying," said Lloyd-Lavery.

The trial continues.

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