Leeds Sex Abuse Trial: Oliver Saxby QC and Kieran Brand secure acquittals on majority of charges

December 17, 2015

After 2 weeks in retirement, the jury in the trial of James Carragher returned their verdicts at around lunchtime yesterday.

Mr Carragher faced 62 counts of serious sexual abuse (including 12 counts of buggery/attempted buggery) relating to 16 complainants dating back to the 1970s and 1980s when he was Principal of the St Williams Boys Home near Market Weighton – an approved school run by the catholic De La Salle order (of which Mr Carragher was a ‘Brother’). During the 10 week trial the jury heard that Mr Carragher had previously been the subject of two substantial police operations into his time at St Williams – Operation Lapwing in the 1990s and Operation Aldgate in the 2000s – each of which had resulted in his being convicted of serious sexual offences against numerous complainants. In spite of this ‘Bad Character’ evidence, the jury acquitted Mr Carragher in relation to 9 of the 16 complainants and convicted him on only 3 of the most serious charges he faced. Those counts he was convicted of were by a majority.

The preparation of Mr Carragher’s defence was a painstaking one involving the assimilation and analysis of over 15,000 pages of relevant material generated by the two previous operations. In advance of the trial, the parties formed agreement on over 300 Admissions (relating for instance to the complainants’ bad character and to previous inconsistent accounts they have given over the years) making the presentation of Mr Carragher’s case – and in particular his team’s expert cross-examination of the complainants and the many supporting witnesses – easier for the jury to follow.

Oliver Saxby QC and Kieran Brand were instructed by Christian Harbinson of leading sexual abuse defence specialists, Thompsons.