A former Fylde coast teacher was found dead just days before he was due to stand trial accused of sexually assaulting three boys.
Roy Ball, 80, taught at Rossall School during the 1970s, when the offences are said to have taken place.
He was due to stand trial at Preston Crown Court yesterday, on charges of sexual assault and 14 offences of possessing indecent images.
Mr Ball was arrested 12 months ago following a year-long investigation by detectives in Fleetwood.
His alleged victims were aged between eight and 12 and were said to have been assaulted over a four-year period from 1973.
However, Preston Crown Court was told Mr Ball had died at his home address in Clevedon, Somerset, on Thursday.
Police were sent to a bungalow in Edward Road South after receiving a call from concerned neighbours. An Avon Police spokesman confirmed: “Officers were called to a property at 3.30pm by a member of the public concerned for a man’s welfare.
“Officers attended and found the body of a man in his 80s. His death is not being treated as suspicious.”
A spokeswoman for Avon coroner’s office said the cause of Mr Ball’s death was still being investigated and a post mortem examination will take place later this week. She said: “We were told about Mr Ball’s death on October 30 and an inquest into the death is yet to be opened.”
A court hearing has been scheduled for November 13 at Preston Crown Court during which the case is expected to be discontinued.
Mr Ball had denied all charges, five of which related to the same boy. The indecent images charges date from 2009 to 2013 and concerned the most serious category of images.
At the time of his death Mr Ball had been on bail with the conditions that he must not have any unsupervised contact with a child under the age of 16.
Elaine Purves, headteacher at Rossall School, said at the time of his arrest: “Due to the fact that the allegations date back four decades, the individual is not known to the school.”