Martin Collins stands trial court over child sexual offences

A WOMAN has described feeling “sick” when she learned a man who allegedly sexually abused her in her youth had been accused of assaulting a seven-year-old girl.

Martin Collins, of Lower Henley Road, Caversham, appeared in court today charged with sexually abusing two girls more than a dozen years apart.

The 65-year-old, who denies all charges made against him, was accused of abusing a girl a seven-year-old girl in 2019 after he allegedly touched her inappropriately.

After these claims emerged against him early last year, a second female, who is now in her twenties, contacted police to say Mr Collins had sexually abused her from 2001 to 2006.

She claimed this included him touching her chest and kissing her on the neck when she was five.

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A few years later, Mr Collins allegedly forced the girl to touch him inappropriately before stripping her clothing and attacking her sexually.

On the first day of a trial, the girl who was first allegedly abused by Mr Collins took to the witness box to tell the court of her ordeal.

The court heard how Mr Collins would put his hands on the girl’s chest when she visited his house at around five years old.

When she was asked how this made her feel by prosecutor Barnaby Shaw, she said she felt it was “a bit weird”.

She said these incidents happened on at least five occasions.

Later, when she was aged between seven and nine years old, she was dropped off at Mr Collins’ house as the 65-year-old had invited her round for a pizza play-date with his granddaughter.

But the court heard how his granddaughter was not at the house, and it was just Mr Collins there.

When she entered his property, she claimed Mr Collins forced her to touch his genitals.

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Later that evening, Mr Collins returned to the room where the girl was sitting and took her clothes off before allegedly digitally penetrating her “private parts”.

“I tried to wiggle away but I couldn’t”, the girl told Mr Shaw.

Asked by Mr Shaw how she felt when Mr Collins allegedly assaulted her, she said: “I felt like I wasn’t really there. Like I was just existing.”

The girl, who did not tell anybody about the alleged assault, refused to visit Mr Collins’s house as she got older and next saw him at a funeral in 2013, where he gave her a kiss on the cheek.

The court heard how she told three school friends about the incidents between 2011 and 2015 before she opened up to a confidante during a haircut in 2018.

Mr Collins had come up in conversation between the pair during the haircut, leading to the girl telling the confidante that she “f****** hates the man” as he had sexually abused her as a child.

But the incident was not raised with the authorities and was only reported to police in March 2020, after Mr Collins rang the girl’s father telling him that he had been accused of sexually assaulting the second girl.

Having learned about the charge, the girl said she “felt sick” as she thought it was ‘just her’ who had been sexually abused by Collins.

The girl’s close family member told her dad about Collins’ alleged abuse following this.

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Defending, Lyall Thompson suggested the girl had told her friends the story of the sexual abuse “in order to fit in” at a New Year’s Eve party, a charge the girl denied.

Mr Thompson also suggested the girl reported the incident to the police only after her father and her close family member had “pressured” her into doing so, another accusation waved away by the witness.

The defence argued that the initial incidents, when the girl was five, were “made out to be very sinister when in fact they were not”.

It was also put to the girl that Collins would not have had the opportunity to assault her given the logistics of the room it allegedly occurred in.

Mr Thompson quizzed the girl about the intricate details of the later incident before trying to determine her age at the time of the alleged abuse, something she could not pinpoint.

She said: “After he did what he did, I don’t remember much. I spent years blocking it out.”

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The defence also implied that she would have protested Mr Collins’ alleged advances at the time, something the girl challenged.

She added: “What are you meant to do when a big man like that is over you and you’re eight [years old]? I was a little girl.

“Adults know better at that age.”

Summing up, Mr Thompson told the girl Martin Collins was a “loving” and “attentive” person.

He added: “The allegation you have made against him are clearly untrue.”

Mr Collins denies five counts of sexual assault of a child under 13; six counts of indecent assault; one count of gross indecency; one count of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity; and one count of assaulting a child under 13 by penetration.

The trial continues.

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Reading Chronicle | Town Centre