Jury fails to reach verdict in public decency trial for ex policeman and mum

A MAN and a woman accused of performing a sex act on each other in a car as they were waiting to collect her child from a primary school are to face a retrial after jurors failed to reach a verdict.

John Steward and Kayley Powell outside Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court (Words by Timothy Gallagher and pictures by Cavendish Press)

Ex-policeman John Steward, 62, and Kayley Powell, 28, were alleged to have romped on the seats of their Citroen Picasso near the school gates during the 2.50pm incident on February 22 last year.

Onlookers claimed they carried on “grinding and thrutching’’ apparently oblivious to those seeing them until the headmistress of Springhead Infant and Nursery School tapped on the window after being alerted by a parent.

When asked what was going on he and Powell both replied in unison: “We are doing nothing.’’ 

At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Powell and Steward, both from Oldham, faced charges of outraging public decency.

But the jury were discharged after they failed to agree on a verdict following two days of deliberation. The retrial will take place in February 2020.

The accused denied wrongdoing, with the defence arguing Steward had leaned round to adjust the seats in the back while Powell was having “40 winks” next to him.

Powell said she had been doing the school run with Steward – her mother’s former partner – after they had been renovating a house together as part of their family-run property development business.

The court heard that morning Steward had folded the rear seats so they could put unwanted items from the house in the boot of the car. 

Later at the time of the school run, he was trying to put the seats back up again so Powell’s son could get in.

Describing Steward as a “father figure,’’ Powell told the hearing: “I couldn’t see exactly what John was doing with the mechanism because I was facing forward and he was leaning between the two seats into the rear of the car –  it took him four or five minutes. 

“At that one point I shut my eyes for 40 winks, I was resting my eyes I didn’t fall asleep and then I had a cigarette, he might have brushed his arm against me but I didn’t feel it. 

“I was about to leave the car to pick up my son when I saw the headteacher coming up the path walking in a different direction to everybody else.

“The headteacher tapped on the window and asked me if I was OK, asked who I was and I said: ‘’I’m Kayley.’’’ 

She asked who John was and I said: ‘He is my dad’ and she said: ‘We have had reports something inappropriate is happening in this car.’

“I just laughed but I was placed in a small family room at the school with my son’s pastoral support worker. She said I could go but said I wasn’t allowed to take my son with me so I decided to stay at the school.

“I only found out what the report was after the police had been called. 

“I am anaemic and I had been working from 9.30am – I was tired I just wanted to rest my eyes.”

Steward a police officer for 27 years and a former mechanic in the merchant navy was also a school governor at Alt Junior School in Oldham between 1991 and 2001.

He told the jury: “I unfolded the back seats to the normal position and I was leaning between the front two seats which would be the driver and the passenger side.

“I lifted my body over the gear stick and then reached down to release one of the mechanisms from the rear seat. 

“I used my left hand to move the seat behind Kayley and I leaned over and released the catch in the bottom.

“I’m 16 stone so me moving around the car would cause movement, there would be a perception of moving the vehicle. Kayley’s son needed to sit in the back seat.

“I saw two ladies coming the opposite way up the road I didn’t know who it was at the time, she knocked on the window, she introduced herself as the head teacher. 

“Her words were: ‘We have had reports that something inappropriate is happening in this car’ and said: ‘Kayley come down with me to the office.’

“If you want to put it in black and white that somebody is telling the truth and somebody is lying then I’m telling the truth. I’m a family friend – I’m a part of the family.’’

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