A DOCTOR accused of committing historic sex offences against a young boy has been declared unfit to stand trial.

Dr Robin Borthwick, 79, of Southend Road, Bradfield, has been charged with committing five counts of indecent assault on a boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The offences are alleged to have been committed during the 1970s and 1980s at three locations; two in private properties and also the GP surgery.

After making a singular court appearance at Reading Magistrates Court in January this year, Dr Borthwick has since been declared unfit to stand trial.

There will instead be a trial of facts starting at Reading Crown Court on Wednesday (October 18).

What does unfit to stand trial mean?

Unfit to stand trial means a defendant is unfit to plead guilty or not guilty if they are unable to then participate in their trial for health reasons. This decision is based on the defendant's health at the time of trial.

What is a trial of facts?

A trial of facts takes place instead of a criminal trial. It is still a public hearing to determine whether an accused committed the acts alleged.

However, it cannot result in a conviction. But if the court is not satisfied that the accused committed the acts alleged, then the defendant can be acquitted.

What happens during the trial?

Similar to a criminal trial, the prosecution puts its evidence against the defendant before a judge and jury in a courtroom.

However, the accused does not play a part in proceedings as such and they do not need to be in court.

The defendant will be represented by a legal team and their lawyers can question the witnesses, challenge the evidence and make legal submissions on their behalf.

Unlike in a criminal trial, the jury is not required to return a verdict of guilty or not guilty. Instead, they decide if the defendant committed the offences they are charged with or not.

The focus is on what they are alleged to have physically done not their state of mind at the time whereas a criminal trial considers whether the defendant had the mental capacity required to be guilty.

What happens if the defendant is found to have committed the offences?

The court will not sentence them as normal - but instead has the option of making a number of treatment orders, or an absolute discharge.

A number of different medical orders are available - they are mainly designed to protect the public.

An individual can be committed to a hospital, they can be subject to a guardianship order or they can be subject to a supervision and treatment order.