A 53-year-old man has been cleared of a string of historical sex allegations after a two-week trial at Burnley Crown Court.

Eugene Nugent, of Cobden Street, Hapton, had denied allegations of having sexual intercourse with a girl aged under 13 and seven charges of indecency with a child.

The court heard the offences were said to have taken place between July 1983 and July 1984.

The jury took five hours and 14 minutes to reach its not guilty verdicts.

The defendant was discharged from the dock by Judge Graham Knowles, QC.

The court had heard claims Mr Nugent had abused the Rossendale schoolgirl after she had turned to him for help, telling him she had been molested by a man.

The girl was said to have been ‘infatuated’ with the defendant, then in his early 20s and the court was told she ‘followed him around like a puppy’.

Prosecutors alleged the defendant had incited the girl to commit sex acts at his home, at the garage where he worked, in a shed and near Grane reservoir.

The court heard he was accused of having full sex with the alleged victim.

The hearing had been told Mr Nugent was arrested in July last year. He handed over a prepared statement to police, denying there had been any sexual activity.