Eleanor Wilson released on unconditional bail pending decision on retrial
The science teacher Eleanor Wilson arrives at Bristol crown court on Wednesday. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA
A jury has been discharged after failing to reach verdicts in the trial of the science teacher Eleanor Wilson, who was accused of having sex with a 16-year-old pupil in the toilet of a plane.
Wilson dabbed away tears as the recorder of Bristol, Judge Peter Blair QC, thanked the jury for its efforts.
He told them their discussions must always be kept secret and Wilson was released on unconditional bail, pending a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service on whether there will be a retrial. The CPS had been given seven days to decide.
The jury foreman told the court after more than 10 hours of deliberation that the 10-person panel did not believe it would get to the point where at least nine of them could agree on verdicts
Wilson, 29, was alleged to have beckoned the boy into the toilet during the night flight and performed a sex act on him before they had sexual intercourse in the cubicle.
After the trip in the summer of 2015 the pair went on day trips together to Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire and Ashton Court near Bristol. The boy also bought her chocolates and flowers.
The allegations against Wilson emerged after another pupil threatened to reveal what had happened unless she had sex with him.
Wilson told police the toilet allegation sounded like the script of a “weird porn film” and claimed the complainant had imagined the episode.
Bristol crown court heard that analysis of the boy’s mobile phone revealed that between August 2015 and March 2016 there were 339 “contacts” between the boy and Wilson, whose number was saved as “Smurfette” in his contacts book. This included 295 texts.
Wilson accepted that she gave the teenager her phone number and they were in contact almost daily over the summer following the alleged incident but insisted the claims were untrue and horrifying.
She said she had formed a bond with the boy because she had no other friends and, apart from her then boyfriend, Andrew Hall, there was no one else she could talk to.
“He was really the only person I had that was a friend. He was the only person I would talk to apart from Andy,” Wilson said. “I was lonely and I wanted to spend a day out with someone. He was my only friend.”
Wilson, of Dursley, Gloucestershire, denied four charges of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust.