Teen sex charge mum cleared by jury in hours

A Blackpool mum has been cleared of having sex with teenage boys at her home in the resort.

Wednesday, 13th January 2016, 10:48 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th January 2016, 10:54 am
Caroline Lea from Blackpool has been cleared of seven counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child

Caroline Lea, 34, wiped tears from her eyes as the jury returned verdicts of not guilty on all charges of sexual activity with the teenagers after a trial at Preston Crown Court.

However the jury found Lea, of Clifton Drive, Blackpool, guilty of permitting her premises to be used for the consumption of cannabis.

The mum-of-three will be sentenced for that offence on February 25.

Throughout the seven-day trial Lea has maintained her innocence, insisting the boys had made up the claims she had engaged in a threesome with two teenagers, had a sexual relationship with another and kissed a fourth on a sofa at her home.

She said one of the boys had made an allegation after she accused his brother of stealing a phone from her home, and another was infatuated with her and became jealous when he learned of her relationship with another, older, man.

Giving evidence in her defence, Lea said youths would regularly gather in her home but that she would ask them to leave the property.

Some of the teenage witnesses had criminal records and others were known to be involved in anti-social behaviour in the local area.

Lea told the court at the time of the alleged offences she was struggling with alcohol after losing her job at the Department of Work and Pensions, but maintained she had no sexual interest in underage boys.

The jury took less than three hours to unanimously clear her of the charges.

Lea has been granted bail on the conditions she does not associate with anyone under the age of 16, with the exception of her own children, until she returns to be sentenced for the drugs offence.

Trial judge Pamela Badley ordered a pre-sentence report to assist her when she passes sentence in February.

She told Lea: “Your lifestyle clearly has a number of elements which are of concern to the court.”