Rape trial of Derbyshire fire chief Sean Frayne adjourned after juror suffers bereavement

Sean Frayne

Sean Frayne

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A jury trying a chief fire officer from Huddersfield who is accused of raping a woman has been discharged after a member of the panel suffered a bereavement.

A second jury was sworn in to try Sean Frayne, of Fixby, at Derby Crown Court after it was decided not to continue hearing the case against him with only 11 jurors.

Frayne, the head of Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, denies raping the alleged victim at a pub in 2006 while his wife was in another room.

Outlining the Crown’s case to the new jury, prosecutor Martin Hurst said the panel would have to decide whether the woman was raped or if, as Frayne claimed, she had suddenly kissed him passionately and “effectively forced herself” upon him.

During his opening remarks, Mr Hurst said Frayne and his wife went to talk to the alleged victim in 2013 after receiving an anonymous letter mentioning her name and branding him a rapist.

The court heard that the letter, sent by a friend the alleged victim had confided in, suggested she may “avoid publicity” for a substantial out-of-court payment.

Jurors were told that Frayne and his wife left the woman “in total shock” when they visited her to ask her questions about the letter.

The Crown submits that the alleged victim knew nothing of her friend’s attempts to “achieve some form of informal justice” on her behalf by sending the letter, which was followed by a second note demanding an apology for the alleged offence.

After receiving the first letter, the court heard, Frayne opened it, read it, went for a walk and then returned home to tell his wife.

Frayne, who is currently suspended from his fire service post, was charged with rape after a formal complaint was made in December 2013.

Alleging that the 48-year-old fire chief had “perhaps misread the signals” before attacking the woman, Mr Hurst told the jury: “Mr Frayne is essentially going to say that she is motivated by money, that she wants compensation.

“If that’s right, why did she wait for seven years?

“The victim never wanted to tell anybody about this sordid incident and you may well think at the end of the evidence that if it hadn’t been for (the victim’s friend’s) curious intervention, this may have remained a secret to this very day.”

Frayne denies a single count of rape.

His trial was adjourned.