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It was only after that, the court heard, that the alleged victim went to the police to make a formal complaint about Mc Laughlin’s sexual behaviour.

The jury was told the man had suffered a head injury in a fall at his home last week when he was halfway through giving evidence.

Because of that, and because the man needed time in hospital for regular dialysis sessions, it was not known when or if he would be able to return to court to complete his evidence.

Judge Paul Batty QC said "justice demands" that the jury be discharged.

Councillor Mc Laughlin, who remains a serving town councilor, will now go on trial in front of a different jury on April 7 and he has been granted bail.