A YOUTH worker has been cleared of having a sexual relationship with a child he met while he worked in a Lancashire school.
During a four-day trial at Preston Crown Court, Christopher Midgeley maintained his innocence, saying the relationship with the boy only became sexual when the boy started college, aged 16.
The jury took three and a half hours to clear Midgeley, 26, of Brookside, Coppull, Chorley of eight offences of having a sexual relationship with a child and sexual activity by a person in a position of trust.
The court heard Midgeley met the boy, who can not be named for legal reasons, when he was a pupil at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy in Darwen, where Midgeley worked.
They became friends and Midgeley would offer him advice and support as he struggled to come to terms with his sexuality.
The pair would meet outside school, in Midgeley’s car, but it was only once the youngster had left the school that their relationship became sexual, the court heard.
Midgeley told the court: “My position all along was to support him because to break his heart wasn’t fair.
“With hindsight I would do it differently.”
He said if faced with the situation again he would not have met the youngster outside school and would have told colleagues the boy had a crush on him.
He said by the time the boy left school they were friends, telling the court: “I saw a lot of the younger version of me in him.”
Describing the relationship as “an affair” he said he started to distance himself from the teenager when the boy started to talk about them living together when he started university.
Giving evidence during the trial, the boy told Preston Crown Court he would see Midgeley “three or four times a week” in school and struck up a friendship with him, asking him for advice “if I had any problems or worries”.
He said he talked to Midgeley on the internet messaging service MSN, after a friend of the defendant added him on Facebook and passed on Midgeley’s contact details. He said: “I said that I quite liked him.
“As a friend and I had a bit of a crush on him.
The boy said the pair met near school and sat in the front of the defendant’s car for 10 to 15 minutes.
He claimed Midgeley would drive him to various locations where they would “talk, hold hands and kiss”.
After he had left school and gone to college, at the age of 16, the relationship became sexual at Midgeley’s flat.