As a precaution, this article was removed after reference was made to it by the defence at the trial. I decided that although the judge took no action, I didn't want there to be be any possibility of a mistrial being caused by the blog, even though the jurors had been specifically enjoined not to look for details of the case on the Internet. It is now being restored in its original form.
The trial of Pearce and Maestri started today, a day late because a previous trial involving one of
the lawyers overran.
Not that much happened today. Although no plea was formally heard from the
defendants, it was clear that the "not guilty" plea they gave at the
previous hearing was still applicable. So we have a trial.
There was a bit of discussion between the judge and the lawyers concerning
questions to be put to the prospective jurors. The first was whether any of
them had any previous connection with St. Benedict's School. The second
question was whether any of the jurors had read in the papers or on the
internet any article which made any mention of sexual abuse at St.Benedict's
School. The third question was whether any juror had a connection with anybody
on a list of names read out to them. (I can't list the names here as most of
them are protected by court order, so it would be contempt of court to publish
There was also a bit of discussion involving timetabling and logistics for the
trial. The delay to the start has played havoc with the timetable, and one of
the lawyers has also been called away to another case for a day. It was agreed
that the hearings would be on 7-8 July, and 12-13 July, extending into the
following day if it should be necessary.
So the jury was selected and sworn, and the charges were read out, and the
judge gave them the usual stern warning against talking to people about the
case, or doing their own research on the internet. He mentioned the recent case
juror in Manchester who had done that and had been sent to jail as a
The charges against Maestri are three counts of indecent assault against a boy under
the age of 16, all occurring between 1st September 1977 and 31st July 1978.
Similarly, the charges against Pearce are three counts of indecent assault
against a boy under the age of 16, all occurring between 1st September 1978 and
31st July 1979.
The prosecution opening statement briefly described the alleged assaults by
Maestri, when the boy was in the 2nd year of the Middle school, how when he
moved up to the upper school he confided in Pearce who allegedly promised to
sort it out, but swore the boy to secrecy, and allegedly abused him again. The
same boy is the victim in all 6 counts. His name is protected from publication
by court order (not that I would want to give it anyway).
The prosecution barrister made it clear that the three charges each are
specimen charges, that the prosecution intends to show a pattern of repeated
abuse lasting through both academic years, Maestri in the first year and Pearce
in the second.
Two other brief statements were read to the jury, describing the occasion of the
arrest and caution of each of the defendants.
And with that, the jury was sent home and told to return in time for a 10.15
start on Thursday.