Penzance businessman Jonathan Payne cleared of sexually assaulting teenage girls
A PENWITH businessman has been cleared of sexually assaulting two teenage girls.
Jonathan Payne, 47, known as Dale, who runs Marisco Fish Limited in Long Rock, went on trial at Truro Crown Court last Monday.
The former Jehovah's Witness was accused of eight sexual offences.
William Sellick, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Payne, of Trevadrah Road, Penzance, gave the girls alcohol before making them touch him intimately and touching them.
Mr Sellick said when one of them tried to resist his advances he punched her in the pelvis.
Mr Sellick said: "She was scared, so scared that afterwards she always drank whatever he told her to drink and did what he told her to do."
But Payne denied all the charges and said the incident had never happened.
Giving evidence during the trial he said he had not touched either girl inappropriately and described the allegations as "ludicrous". He said: "I feel they just want to bring me down. If you think about it, the whole thing is ludicrous."
The court heard that Payne was 'disfellowshipped' from the Penzance congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, meaning he was expelled following a hearing before a committee.
He said the expulsion happened because he was seeing a woman who was not his wife.
Payne was accused of six offences in respect of one girl including three of indecency with a child, a charge of indecent assault, one of sexual assault and a further allegation of assault by penetration.
The incidents were alleged to have taken place between 2001, when the complainant was aged under 16 and 2006.
Payne faced a further two charges of assault by penetration and sexual assault relating to one incident in 2008 with a second complainant.
The allegations came to light in December 2011 when one of the girls contacted police.
Payne was later arrested but he denied all the allegations, telling officers he was not attracted to young girls. He said one of the girls owed him money.
In court he said: "I am telling the truth, they are not telling the truth."
The jury returned unanimous verdicts of not guilty on all counts on Friday.