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Car dealer's trial ordeal over

PUBLISHED: 17:26 24 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:54 03 March 2010

A SECONDHAND car salesman cleared of indecently assaulting two teenage boys today spoke of a 20-month court nightmare - and his relief at the verdict.

But the lasting legacy of the false accusations has left cancer victim Peter Coad's business in ruins, his health shattered and his family in tatters.

A SECONDHAND car salesman cleared of indecently assaulting two teenage boys today spoke of a 20-month court nightmare - and his relief at the verdict.

But the lasting legacy of the false accusations has left cancer victim Peter Coad's business in ruins, his health shattered and his family in tatters.

He slammed the climate of political correctness that caused innocent horseplay to land him in court.

Speaking after his four-day trial, the 50-year-old father of three, said: "This is political madness gone wrong.

"I think it's a real shame that we have got to the stage where you simply mustn't touch anybody in any way unless it's a direct member of your own family.

"What sort of a society is it when the police bring charges for being friendly?"

A majority jury at Ipswich Crown Court cleared Mr Coad of three charges of indecent assault.

The jury rejected the prosecution's claim that there was any sexual motivation for calling one of the teenagers a "cuddle bum".

And they believed Mr Coad's flat denial of one serious incident of indecent assault and agreed two other counts of alleged assault had been friendly actions that were misinterpreted by the boys.

But the effect of the trial on Mr Coad, of Whitby Road, and his family has been profound.

He said: "My close family stood by me but other family members, who said there was no smoke without fire, didn't. The personal impact on my family and I has been traumatic."

Mr Coad's once thriving business, the Ipswich Car Supermarket, in Portman Walk has now closed.

He said: "I used to have 85 cars on that site but now there's nothing there. I had to close it down. It was impossible to deal with some businesses who made snide comments."

The effect on the grandfather's health has been equally traumatic.

"It doesn't bear thinking about. I suffer from renal cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The stress of it has been unbearable. Now I just need to set about picking up the pieces and getting on with my life."


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