Family defends superdad' in sex case trial

PUBLISHED: 13:12 21 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:54 06 May 2010

THE jury in the trial of a car dealer accused of sexually assaulting five young girls have been hearing from members of his family. His two daughters both said he was a wonderful father and that they had never seen him behave inappropriately with any of t

THE jury in the trial of a car dealer accused of sexually assaulting five young girls have been hearing from members of his family.

His two daughters both said he was a wonderful father and that they had never seen him behave inappropriately with any of their friends who stayed at their homes in Hinxworth, Ashwell and Guilden Morden.

Graham Pope, 66, of Thompsons Meadow, Guilden Morden, pleads not guilty to 18 charges of indecent assault between 1985 and 2000 on girls aged between seven and 13.

The prosecution allege that while Pope treated his children's friends to fun activities, he would then use bedtimes and bath times as an opportunity to touch them indecently.

He has told police and the jury that nothing indecent happened and that he was the victim of a vendetta by another girl who had put the girls up to making the allegations.

He admitted he wanted to be seen as a "superdad", and would take children flying as he had his own pilot's licence, for rides in his sports car and on his tandem bike.

On Monday his daughters aged 17 and 24 and his wife, Cherie, all testified to the jury that he was an excellent father and family man.

His youngest daughter said; "We are one of the closest families I can think of. When I was about seven, I was allowed to have friends to sleep over and my dad was super.

"These things could not have happened without me knowing. All my friends were treated equally and I never saw or heard him say anything which gave me cause for concern.

"If a friend was upset he would cuddle them, and at bedtime I would ask him to tickle or stroke my back to relax me. A friend asked him to do it to her and he did."

His older daughter was asked: "Did you ever see anything in your father's behaviour towards any child which caused you any concern?"

She said: "No, nothing whatsoever. He was a good fun dad, always good to have around. My friends enjoyed him being there."

Pope's wife said they had been very happily married for 30 years. She said that, in truth, she found the sleepovers "a bit of a pain, a chore", and her husband would get the girls to go to sleep so that they could eat in peace.

She said sometimes the girls would have fun baths and ask him to bring the trays of "cocktails" like a waiter, which he would do but would not stay in the bathroom with them.

The case continues.

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