Headteacher cleared of ‘abuse’ claims

Headteacher James Bird, with his wife Ruth, outside Preston Crown Court after being cleared of sexual allegations involving a former pupil
Headteacher James Bird, with his wife Ruth, outside Preston Crown Court after being cleared of sexual allegations involving a former pupil
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A headteacher cleared of sexually abusing a former pupil today thanked people for their support, and said he could not wait to return to his job.

James Bird, 53, of Acorn Close, Leyland, also said he was looking forward to spending time with youngest daughter, 13, whom he had been unable to be alone with since being charged.

Headteacher James Bird, with his wife Ruth, outside Preston Crown Court after being cleared of sexual allegations involving a former pupil

Headteacher James Bird, with his wife Ruth, outside Preston Crown Court after being cleared of sexual allegations involving a former pupil

The father-of-four was charged with historic offences after a man claimed he was sexually abused by him in his office at an Accrington primary school as a “punishment” for being naughty in class.

The former pupil – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – told Preston Crown Court he was forced to perform sex acts upon him, aged 10, after being sent out of class for backchatting a teacher.

But following a trial, Mr Bird, of Acorn Close, Leyland, was found not guilty of four counts of gross indecency in less than five minutes by the jury at Preston Crown Court.

Mr Bird, said he “couldn’t wait” to return to his role as headteacher at Newton Bluecoat School in Newton With Scales, near Preston.

He said: “I’m very happy that the truth has come out. It was made crystal clear in court these incident did not occur. It has been very difficult since these allegations came to light.

“I’d like to thank my many friends colleagues, parents of pupils and other well wishers for all their support prayers and kindness. We have taken enormous strength from them all.

“Also particularly the support of our church, St Andrew’s in Leyland. Their strong faith and prayers, along with ours, in and to our saviour, the risen Lord Jesus, have made these 11 months bearable.”

“After 338 very difficult days my family and I need to get our lives back to normal.

“I am now looking forward to spending some quality time with my 13-year-old daughter who I have not been allowed to be alone with since before Christmas last year.

“Secondly I’m looking forward to returning to my fantastic job as a headteacher and thanking my deputy and all the staff for the wonderful work they have done in my absence.”

Tim Walker, chairman of governors at Newton Bluecoat, said: “We are aware that Mr Bird has been cleared on all four counts. I, along with HR staff from the county council and the diocese, will meet with Mr Bird to discuss the future.”

DC Karen Parker of Lancashire police said: “Whilst we are disappointed with the outcome of this trial, we of course respect the decision of the jury.”