Teacher cleared of sexual assault

An award-winning teacher has been cleared of sexually assaulting an eight-year-old boy.

Richard Burse, of Arundel Road, Tangmere, was trying to calm the boy down because he was upset and not feeling well. But the youngster told his mother Mr Burse had molested him.

Yasmin Punjani, defending, said there were significant differences in the boy’s story on the two occasions he was interviewed by police.

She said Mr Burse had spent 20 years in youth work before he retrained to fulfil his dream of being a teacher. The prosecution had claimed he assaulted the boy in ‘ten minutes of madness’.

Miss Punjani said: “Why would a man who had gone to such lengths to take up this vocation lose it for ten minutes?”

The former scout leader Mr Burse, 38, was alleged to have assaulted the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in 2009. He has always denied the charge.

After a four-day trial at Portsmouth Crown Court the jury of seven men and five women took less than an hour to find him not guilty of sexual assault on a child under 13.

Judge Peter Henry said Mr Burse had received a number of awards for his teaching work. Mr Burse declined to comment as he left court.