Clayhall priest accused of sexual activity with child may face retrial
A Roman Catholic priest accused of fondling a teenage boy at his church may face a retrial after a jury failed to reach a verdict.
Father Jeba Marshall, 60, of St John Vianney Church in Stoneleigh Road, Clayhall, is accused of kissing the teenager on his cheeks and stroking his back and stomach.
He is said to have targeted the boy because he was ‘vulnerable’.
But after a two-week trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court, a jury failed to decide whether the priest was guilty of two counts of sexual activity with a child.
They earlier cleared him of two counts of sexual activity with a child.
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The jury was discharged today after deliberating for nine hours and 39 minutes.
Prosecutors are expected to decide whether to pursue a retrial within the next week.
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Judge Simon Freeland told the jury the fact they had not reached a verdict should not be thought of as a failure.
‘I must thank you very much indeed for your painstaking care and attention from the beginning to the end,’ the judge added.
Marshall is alleged to have put his hand on the boy’s leg and moved it towards his groin as they sat alone after a service in December.
The priest denied the claims, explaining his Indian heritage made him more ‘touchy-feely’ towards his flock.
Marshall, of Stoneleigh Road, Clayhall, was found not guilty of two counts of sexual activity with a child, while the jury could not reach a verdict on two further counts.