Jury discharged after step-daughter rape trial at Burnley Crown Court

A jury has decided a father accused of serious sexual offences did not commit five charges of rape against his step-daughter who had four children by him.

The 60-year-old, described at Burnley Crown Court as a "tyrant", is accused of 42 offences against members of his family from 1988 to 2011.

However, the jury did find the man, who was unfit to plead, responsible for 15 counts of child cruelty.

The jury was discharged after failing to rule on a number of other charges.

A decision on whether to pursue a retrial over two counts of rape and seven counts of indecent assault will be made by the Crown Prosecution Service on Wednesday.

In court, prosecutors alleged the man forced himself upon his step-daughter and described how he controlled his family for more than 20 years.

The jury also heard conflicting evidence that their relationship may have been consensual.

Cutting clothes

At an earlier hearing, Judge Jonathan Gibson had ruled the man, who cannot be named, unfit to plead to charges due to his "deteriorating intellectual capacity".

He said the jury's role in the proceedings was to determine whether the defendant did the acts outlined in the charges.

The man, who denied all charges in police interviews, was not in court at any stage.

The jury decided he had committed 23 offences in total, including four counts of causing actual bodily harm, three counts of false imprisonment and one count of damaging property.

All the non-sexual counts related to him controlling his family with verbal and physical abuse.

He was also cleared of two counts of child cruelty, two counts of causing actual bodily harm and one count of false imprisonment.

The jury failed to reach decisions on two counts of rape and seven counts of indecent assault.

The offences came to light when his step-daughter called police after he made her strip and began cutting up her clothes with a kitchen knife because she refused to do as she was told.

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