A former town councillor in Cornwall has been found guilty of launching a sex attack on a young male student.
Denis Bennett, 50, a married father of two who had served on St Austell Town Council, was yesterday convicted of stood in the dock at Truro Crown Court yesterday (thursday) to hear the verdict. The jury took an hour and fifteen minutes to find the supermarket worker guilty of one count of indecently assaulting the 18-year-old man.
Denis Bennett at Bodmin Magistrates Court.
Bennett had denied the allegation at Truro Crown Court, insisting he had merely been fooling around with the teenager, admitting only that he might have gone “over the top a bit”.
Judge Christopher Elwen adjourned the case for pre-sentence reports and released Bennett on bail to reappear in four weeks’ time for sentence.
During the one-day trial the court heard the victim had been visiting Bennett’s family home on Market Hill, St Austell, when the attack took place. The defendant has since moved out of the house.
The jury heard Bennett targeted his victim on December 7 last year in the living room of the house.
Prosecuting Alistair Verheijen (correct) said Bennett had indulged in banter with the boy that was riddled with sexual innuendo before kissing the young man on the forehead.
Mr Verheijen described how Bennett then pulled the teenager on to his knee and indecently assaulted him.
Mr Verheijen said when the boy left the room Bennett sent a text to a friend of the teenager’s that read: “I think I might have gone a bit over the top in teasing and winding him up. I have thought about it since.”
Iain Leadbetter, defending, said his client, who had no previous convictions, was a “larger-than-life character” and there had been no sexual intent in his actions towards the boy.
Mr Leadbetter said a fellow councillor on the town council had described Bennett as a “gentle giant who never did any harm to anyone and had a zany sense of humour”.
Last night, St Austell Town Council issued a statement on behalf of mayor Sandra Heywood and deputy town clerk Sara Gwilliams.
It read: “Clearly the court proceedings have now been completed and we can confirm that Mr Bennett has resigned from his position as town councillor with immediate effect.”