Former Northamptonshire school head dies in car crash ahead of historic sex offences trial

Graham Priest was due to appear at Northampton Crown Court to face a trial yesterday. However the court heard that he had died on Sunday.

Graham Priest was due to appear at Northampton Crown Court to face a trial yesterday. However the court heard that he had died on Sunday.

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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 a woman 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 have to be vacated, after Priest had been involved in a serious 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 enquiries 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.

Barrister, Maxine Krone, who had been due to represent him during the trial, said that, on Saturday, at around 7pm, Priest had run into the back of a stationary lorry "at considerable speed".

A friend of the two of the three alleged victims, who attended the Greens Norton school in the 1990s, said they were disappointed the case would not be heard by a judge and jury and added that it had been "really hard for them".

Priest was himself a pupil at the school himself before working through the ranks. The friend of the alleged victims told the Chron how she remembered Priest when he was head boy.

Falcon Manor School closed in 1999.

Priest's trial is due to be officially vacated heard at Northampton Crown Court today.

A Kent Police spokeswoman confirmed a man in his 50s had died after his car hit a parked lorry in Kent at 7pm on Saturday.

She said: "He was driving a Citroen on the A249 when it hit the lorry, which was legally parked in a lay-by."