Former Lowestoft shopkeeper denies sex charges

A MAN who claims he was indecently assaulted as a child by a Lowestoft shopkeeper has denied being recruited as 'supporting cast' by other alleged victims.

The 27-year-old told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday that he had been a frequent visitor to a shop owned by Anthony Francis in Norwich Road, Lowestoft, when he was 12, as he played football nearby and one of his friends worked there.

He had helped out by carrying cans of drink downstairs to a storeroom and had been rewarded by Francis with a can of drink, a packet of crisps or a bar of chocolate.

On one occasion, when he was 13, he claimed that while he was downstairs in the basement Francis had allegedly pulled him gently on to his lap and had touched his genital area under his shorts but over his underwear.

He had immediately jumped up and described Francis as being very apologetic.

He claimed Francis had then tried to give him �5.

'Quite clearly it was payment for me to keep quiet and not mention anything about it,' said the witness.

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Cross-examined by prosecution counsel John Farmer, the man denied he was lying and refuted that he had been recruited as 'supporting cast' by other alleged victims to back up their claims.

Francis, 52, of Yarmouth Road, Norwich, has denied eight offences of indecent assault and two offences of sexual activity with a child between 1992 and 2005.

It has been alleged that Francis, who owned a shop in Maidstone Road, Lowestoft, between 1990-1995 before moving to premises in Norwich Road, Lowestoft, lured the boys, who were aged between 13 and 15, into his private accommodation at the premises or into a basement office and indecently assaulted them.

It is alleged that he got the boys to sit on his lap and that after sexually assaulting them, gave them money.

The trial continues.