A MAN accused of being a sexual predator has been cleared of a string of attacks on a boy.
Prosecutors claimed former NHS worker Mark Watson staged his repeated assaults when the alleged victim was only 15 years old.
But Watson denied ever abusing the boy – now in his 20s and with a history of making false allegations.
He said he only met him twice when he was over 16 and nothing sexual happened between them.
Now the trial judge has told a Newcastle Crown Court jury they must find Watson not guilty of seven charges of sexual grooming, inciting sexual activity and sexual assault.
The 44-year-old still faces an allegation he raped another 15-year-old boy at his home.
He also remains accused of downloading and possessing child pornography found on a laptop computer after his arrest.
Announcing his decision to order the not guilty verdicts, Recorder Neil Davey said: “There is no evidence to convict.”
The development came as prosecution and defence lawyers were shortly to make their closing speeches.
Watson, formerly of Green Lane, Ashington, but now understood to be living in Blyth, denies every allegation.
The rape charge involves a boy prosecutors claim was only 15 when Watson allegedly plied him with vodka, put on a pornographic film, and attacked him.
But giving evidence, divorced father-of -two Watson said the pair began a consensual relationship when he was sure the alleged victim was over the age of consent. He claimed they performed sex acts together in Watson’s car.
Other meetings took place at his then home in Widdrington, Northumberland, he told the jury.
A collection of indecent child movies and an indecent image of a child were found on a computer belonging to Watson, the court has heard.
He told jurors of a former boyfriend must have downloaded the material.
The trial continues.