A FORMER headteacher accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl has been described as an “inspirational teacher” and “highly professional” by colleagues.

Friends and former colleagues of Richard Hilary spoke out in his defence during his trial at Winchester Crown Court where he is accused of three counts of indecent assault against the girl, who was 15 at the time.

Jurors heard him emphatically deny the assaults whilst he was being cross-examined by prosecutor Matthew Jewell yesterday.

Hilary described it as “completely reprehensible” that he had deliberately not told the police the truth during his interview, where he had denied ever talking to the girl.

However, he later admitted he had met on a few occasions after she had left school, and on one occasion had kissed her.

Asked why he had ever met the girl Hilary, 63, said: “I think I was flattered, it was a huge mistake.

“It was madness, I am well aware of that now. I am fighting for my life, my whole teaching career.”

In closing the case for the defence the court heard from colleagues of Hilary who worked with him at schools in Winchester and at Chamber-layne Park, formerly known as Weston Park Girls school.

Robert Sprague former headteacher and national advisor on the national curriculum, said: “He was probably the best teacher I have ever, ever come across my teaching career.”

Hilary Jackson, former deputy at Chamberlayne, where he was headteacher described him as highly regarded by staff, children and in the community.

Hilary, of Northend Lane, Droxford, denies three counts of indecent assault between December 1977 and December 1979.