By Ted Hennessey, PA
The long-time chauffeur of Queen guitarist Brian May has been cleared of child sexual abuse charges
The rock star had given evidence in court to defend the driver, telling the jury he was a “gentle giant”.
Phillip Webb, 59, who has worked for May and his wife, former EastEnders actress Anita Dobson, for more than 20 years, was accused of abusing a child between 1999 and 2006.
Webb, of Epsom, Surrey, had been accused of giving the complainant drugs and alcohol to carry out the abuse.
On Tuesday, the jury at Kingston Crown Court found Webb not guilty of three counts of indecency with a child, nine counts of indecent assault, and one count of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.
He was also cleared of two further charges of causing or inciting a child under the age of 16 to engage in sexual activity.
The jury delivered the verdict after deliberating for just over five hours.
Webb thanked the jury and told them “you did the right thing”.
The jury had previously heard that both May and Dobson “love and believe” in him.
His barrister had said the couple “gave the impression (Webb) is one of the nice guys”. It was also heard that Webb had discussed the complainant with Dobson, and that the actress had offered her thoughts and advice.
But during May’s evidence last week, it emerged that the musician had been unaware of Webb’s conviction for assaulting his ex’s new partner in 2003.
The court heard that as well as May and Dobson, Webb had also worked for the Japanese Embassy, the Japanese Imperial Family and the band Madness.
In her closing speech on Friday, Eleanor Laws QC, defending, said: “There is no independent supporting evidence whatsoever other than what has come out of the complainant’s mouth.”
Ms Laws said Webb had become “a demon to blame” for all of her addiction and mental health problems.
Discussing Mr Webb’s career, she said: “He’s got a good set of friends, a fabulous job – an actress and a musician – they were able to say they saw him day in, day out for 20 years and one thing is clear, they love him and they believe in him.”
Ms Laws added: “All of these character witnesses were prepared to come to court and say these things about him.”
She continued: “Witness after witness all had a very similar message to tell you – people you might think would not be easy to fool.
“His employers – who have both been with him day in, day out – gave the impression he is one of the nice guys.
“Straightforward, loud, hard working, fun, quick to swear, quick to shout but a genuinely gentle giant – and that was said by a number of different people.”