A WEYMOUTH councillor on trial accused of raping and sexually assaulting a child told a court that ‘nothing ever happened’.
Ryan Hope, 22, denies all the charges, which include multiple accusations of rape and sexual assault of a child under 13.
Hope took to the stand at Bournemouth Crown Court on the third day of the trial today (Thursday), where he said he was ‘shocked’ the allegations had been made.
Hope now faces eight charges instead of nine.
These are two counts of rape of a child under 13, one of which relates to multiple incidents, two counts of rape, one of which also relates to multiple incidents, two counts of sexual assault of a child under 13 and two counts of sexual assault, one of which relates to multiple incidents.
The allegations span during a time frame between October 17, 2004 and early in 2011.
The charges relate to a single victim who is now 18 years old but cannot be named for legal reasons.
The court heard that Hope had immediately denied the allegations when they came to light.
When he took to the stand, defence barrister Mark Ruffell asked him a series of questions, including: “Have you ever sexually assaulted the alleged victim?”
The defendant answered ‘no’ to all questions.
The jury heard about Hope’s award-winning youth and community work, his successful career at a Weymouth engineering firm and of how he became the youngest serving councillor in Weymouth and Portland.
When asked what made him ‘tick’, Hope said his days off ‘are never his days off’ because he is always doing something for someone else.
He told the court: “I was shocked that these allegations had been made about me.”
The jury also heard about how busy Hope had been during the time frame the alleged abuse supposedly took place – juggling exam revision, community work, helping out on a market stall and spending time with his then-girlfriend.
During cross examination, the court heard there were ‘a few occasions’ when Hope and the alleged victim where alone but he denied ever assaulting the alleged victim.
The jury heard that Hope had been suspended by the Liberal Democrat party and is now standing as an independent councillor.
The local branch of the party is under investigation at national level due to its failure to suspend Hope earlier, the court heard.
Prosecutor Mary Aspinall-Miles said the alleged victim was scared to speak out because Hope had ‘powerful’ and ‘influential’ friends in Weymouth.
She asked: “Your career and public image is very important to you isn’t it?”
Hope replied: “On a local council I don’t think politics strongly comes in to it.
“I like to think of myself as a public figure.”
Character witnesses took to the stand to defend Hope.
His boss Nigel Pitman from firm FGP told the court the allegations were ‘completely out of character.’
Another witness said the allegations were ‘purely ridiculous.’
The trial continues.