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Croydon teacher cleared of sexual activity with a child

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A FORMER teacher has been cleared of forcing himself on a schoolgirl. A jury yesterday (Thursday) found Ben Laundon not guilty of two counts of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust. The charges against the 40-year-old, of Norman Avenue, South Croydon, dated back to 2006. He was accused of forcing himself on a schoolgirl, now 22, and sending her racy text messages for up to two years, which he denied. The jury at Guildford Crown Court was told he had kissed the girl's neck and stroked her hair after a cab journey in 2006. Defending, Jai Patel told the jury the complainant, whose identity is protected by law, had made up the accusations. He said she had become obsessed about a novel she was writing at the time about a student-teacher relationship. The jury heard it was not until May 2011 that the complainant spoke about the alleged assault, telling her mother. By that time Mr Laundon had started working at Trinity School in Shirley, which he left in the wake of the allegations. A spokesman for the school said this week all appropriate checks were carried out before employing Mr Laundon, who now runs personal fitness training business Corpus Fitness. The trial lasted three days. Mr Laundon declined to comment after the verdict was delivered yesterday. The complainant's father said he was disappointed with the outcome.

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