Somerset

Somerset church youth leader denies child sex offences

Philip Barlow from Raleigh Close, Saltford Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption The church youth leader denies 19 sex offences against young girls

A church youth leader and former teacher has denied committing sex offences against young girls.

Philip Barlow, 29, from Raleigh Close in Saltford, near Bath, is accused of 19 sex offences against girls, one as young as 12, between 2002 and 2009.

Mr Barlow told Bristol Crown Court he did not sexually assault the three alleged victims.

Mr Barlow denies charges including 10 counts of sexual touching, four of indecent assault and one of voyeurism.

The court heard the father-of one later formed a consensual sexual relationship with one of the alleged victims in 2009, when she was an adult.

Son's disabilities

In his defence, Mr Barlow told the court he started the relationship after his marriage suffered when he and his wife found out, in 2008, their son was permanently disabled.

The youth leader at Saltford's Grace Bible Church said his son's condition had pushed he and his wife Lydia apart, prompting him to start the relationship.

"To my shame, I wasn't a good husband," he said.

"It wasn't an affair so to speak... it was lust."

He told the court he kept the relationship secret.

"I knew if this information were to come out my life would be ruined," Mr Barlow said.

The trial continues.

  • Mr Barlow's conviction was quashed on 26 April after he appealed against it. A retrial has been ordered.

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