Man cleared by jury of attempted rape of schoolgirl

Lisa Bastiani will have to wait until December next year for her trial at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Ian Hammond was cleared of all allegations after a four-day trial - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A 44-year-old Essex man accused of  attempting to rape an 11-year-old schoolgirl nearly a decade ago has been unanimously cleared by a jury.

Ian Hammond was arrested by police in 2020 after the alleged victim, who lived in the Colchester area, told a counsellor he had sexually abused her over a period of about four months, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

During police interviews Hammond said he thought the girl might have had a crush on him.

He denied sexually assaulting her in any way and said although he hadn’t  “pushed her away” he hadn’t “pulled her in.”

Hammond, of Spring Chase, Wivenhoe, denied 10 offences, including seven offences of sexual assault on a child under 13, two offences of assault by penetration and one offence of attempted rape.

He was unanimously cleared of all offences by a jury after a four-day trial.

Gareth Hughes, prosecuting,  said the alleged victim claimed Hammond had touched her breasts over her clothing before touching her inside her underwear, getting her to touch his penis and attempting to rape her.