Man acquitted of sexually assaulting schoolgirl at party

Sam Fearn, 19, of Genesta Drive, Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds was given a suspended sentence at Ipswich Crown Court

Alfie Gilham, 23, was found not guilty at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A man has been cleared of sexually assaulting a schoolgirl during a party at a Suffolk bowls club. 

Alfie Gilham, 23, was accused of touching a 14-year-old girl's leg and later putting his hand inside her clothing during a party at Kirkley Bowls Club in December 2018. 

But following a week-long trial at Ipswich Crown Court, a jury found Gilham, 23, not guilty of sexual assault after deliberating for two hours and 23 minutes. 

During the case, the prosecution alleged that Gilham, who was 19 at the time of the alleged incident, had touched the girl's leg while they were sitting down at the party. 

It was also alleged by prosecutors that Gilham later put a hand inside the teenager's clothing and touched her over her clothing and tights. 

Jurors also heard during the trial how the alleged victim had returned home from the party with holes in her tights. 

Gilham, of Avondale Road, Lowestoft, denied the allegation following his arrest, the court previously heard. 

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Giving evidence from the witness box, Gilham denied touching the girl and said she spent the evening "following him around". 

Gilham said at the beginning of the night someone had told him that both the alleged victim and her mother said he was attractive, which he found odd. 

He said he had consumed three pints and one or two brandy and cokes on the night of the party and had been there from around 7pm to 11.30pm. 

During his defence case, his barrister, Simon Connolly, said: "I'm going to ask you outright, did you sexually assault that young girl?"

Gilham replied: "No, I did not." 

He said he "burst into tears" upon hearing the allegations made against him the day after the party. 

During his evidence, he also told the jury that at one point, it was his understanding that police would not be pursuing the allegations because he was told the alleged victim had admitted it was not true. 

Following the not guilty verdict on Friday, Judge Martyn Levett thanked the jury for their service during the trial and told Gilham he was free to leave the dock.