A pensioner has been found dead just days before he was due to face trial accused of sexually abusing six boys in Devon and Cornwall.

Adrian Carpenter is thought to have taken his own life and Exeter Crown Court was told that he had sent a suicide note to a relative.

He had previously been rescued from the shore below 60-foot-high cliffs near Axmouth, East Devon, after another apparent suicide attempt in August 2020.

Judge David Evans vacated a trial that was due to start on Tuesday, (October 10), and adjourned the case for a week to enable the prosecution to provide confirmation of Mr Carpenter’s death.

Mr Carpenter, aged 75, of Elm Farm Lane, Colyford, had been due to be tried on 17 allegations of indecent or sexual assault or incitement against six different boys aged seven to 12.

All but two of the charges dated from 1986 to 1992 when Mr Carpenter had been a choirmaster in Cornwall. The last two allegations related to inciting sexual activity with and sexual assault of a boy aged 11 to 12 in 2018.

Miss Mary McCarthy, prosecuting, said Mr Carpenter’s body had not been formally identified and there is no death certificate at the present time but that there was a suicide note.

In August 2020 Devon and Cornwall police issued an appeal to find Mr Carpenter after he went missing from his East Devon home.