Plymouth man is cleared after sex abuse trial
A MAN accused of sexual abuse has walked from court a free man amid dramatic scenes.
Dean Merricks, aged 40, was acquitted by a jury of repeatedly abusing a schoolgirl more than 20 years ago.
He was found not guilty of nine charges after a week-long trial at Plymouth Crown Court.
The seven men and five women took three hours to reach their unanimous verdicts.
Smartly-dressed Mr Merricks showed little reaction when the foreman announced the verdicts, before he was told he could leave.
He walked free from court with his wife, whom he married in January.
But supporters of the complainant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, shouted angrily at Mr Merricks and his family in the corridor outside Court 3.
Police officers observing the case ran out to quell any trouble.
Mr Merricks had denied unlawful sexual intercourse with the girl on two occasions.
Mr Merricks, of Duke Street, Devonport, also pleaded not guilty as an alternative to twice attempting to have unlawful sexual intercourse with the girl.
He denied indecently assaulting the girl on three occasions and twice committing acts of gross indecency in her presence.
The offences were said to have happened at the girl's former Plymouth home between 1989 and 1994.
Mr Merricks admitted that he knew the girl, but denied touching her indecently.
He told the jury he had never even been alone with the complainant.
Mr Merricks admitted contacting the woman via Facebook last year.