A gay trainee teacher who is facing eleven counts of child abduction has gone on trial at Carlisle Crown Court.

The News & Star reports John Dougan, 20, of Chaucer Road, Workington, Cumbria, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which relate to his involvement as a volunteer at a youth organisation.

He is accused of taking five 12-year-old boys on unauthorised trips without parental permission.

However, Mr Dougan claimed in court that he did not know the rules of the organisation.

The jury heard that Mr Dougan was subjected to ridicule when the boys found out about his sexuality.

Speaking to one of the boys via video link, defence lawyer Jonathan Clarke said: “Sometimes lads in a group mess around together and show off to each other.

“And is it right that after you found out he was gay you would say things to embarrass him?”

“I can’t remember,” said the boy who was 12 at the time of the alleged abduction.

Mr Clarke also claimed some of the boys used Mr Dougan “almost like a free taxi service”.

“He would give your friends a lift, and certainly on one occasion you and your friends rang him up and asked you to pick up and give you a lift somewhere. That happened, didn’t it?”

“Yes,” said the boy.

The witness was also questioned about an obscene image which he claimed had been shown to him by the defendant.

Mr Clarke then suggested that it had been one of the boy’s friends who had done so, not Mr Dougan himself.

The witness said he “wasn’t sure” but added that he “thought it was John [Dougan]” who had shown him the image.

The trial continues.