The trial of a former Northamptonshire boarding school head teacher charged with historic sex offences against over 16s and children is to be vacated after the defendant died in a car crash.
Graham Priest, who has the head teacher of Falcon Manor boarding School in Greens Norton, near Towcester, was due to appear at Northampton Crown Court yesterday for the first day of his trial.
He was to face a charge of rape against an over-16 dating back to 1988, three counts of indecent assaults on girls and two on women aged over 16, dating between 1995 and 1998.
But the court heard how the trial would now have to be vacated, after Priest died in a car crash near his home in Sittingbourne, Kent.
Prosecuting, Victoria Rose told the the court: “It was due to be listed for trial today, but it is unable to take place as the defendant is now deceased.
“I have made inquiries with the officer in the case.
“It seems, at the moment, a quite clear indication that the defendant was involved in a road traffic collision at the weekend.”
Priest was due to be formally identified by a family member yesterday afternoon.
Maxine Krone, who had been due to represent him during the trial, said that Priest had run into the back of a stationary lorry “at considerable speed” at about 7pm on Sunday.
A friend of two of the three alleged victims told the Northants Telegraph they were disappointed that the trial would not be going ahead and that the case would not be heard before a jury, adding “it had been really hard for them”.
Priest was himself a pupil at the school. The friend of the alleged victims said she remembered Priest when he was head boy.
Falcon Manor School closed in 1999.
Priest’s trial is due to be officially vacated at Northampton Crown Court today.
A Kent Police spokesman confirmed a man in his 50s had died after his car hit a parked lorry in Kent at 7pm on Sunday.
She said: “He was driving a Citroen on the A249 when it hit the lorry, which was legally parked in a lay-by.”