THE trial of a former Ledbury councillor accused of inciting two children to engage in sexual activity collapsed due to prosecution “ineptitude”, claimed the judge.

Martin Eager, aged 51, appeared at Worcester Crown Court yesterday (Thursday) for the second day of the trial in which he was accused of encouraging a boy and girl, both aged under eight at the time, to touch his private parts in January 2004.

The indictment was brought under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which only came into effect in May 2004. This was after the offences were alleged to have taken place.

He is now expected to face a fresh indictment of two counts of indecency with a child. If the case goes ahead it will be held in March next year. He pleaded not guilty to these charges yesterday.

During the abandoned trial, evidence was taken from one of the alleged victims, the girl, through a court video link.

She described Mr Eager as a “perv” and said she had found his actions “disgusting”.

Judge Patrick Thomas QC questioned the wisdom of a retrial which would mean subjecting the girl to court examination for a second time.

He said: “I think the prosecution should give very careful consideration to whether this is a trial which should take place. The girl has already given evidence once.

“Whether it is right to continue with this prosecution is for the Crown Prosecution Service to consider.”

Defence barrister Andrew Davidson said: “This man has effectively faced one trial and now must face another. In his interview he couldn’t remember exactly what had gone on but this just exacerbates the situation.”

Mr Eager, of St Cuthbert’s, the Homend, will now appear before Hereford Crown Court on March 2.