A FORMER care worker who was twice convicted of "historic" sex abuse offences at a North Yorkshire children's home has been cleared by the Court of Appeal - for the second time.

Anver Sheikh, now 56, was initially convicted at York Crown Court in May 2002 of serious sexual assault and indecent assault against two boys under his care at the home, now closed, where he worked as a housemaster.

He was jailed for eight years but his conviction was overturned in February 2004 by Court of Appeal judges.

At that time he was released on bail, but a retrial was ordered and he faced a jury for a second time.

In January last year, Sheikh was convicted again, following a trial at Leeds Crown Court.

After hearing submissions on his behalf yesterday from Patrick Cosgrove QC, his convictions were quashed for a second time by Lord Justice Hooper and two other judges.

Mr Cosgrove argued that because of "crucial" missing documents, the judge presiding over last year's trial should have withdrawn the allegations of one of the two complainants from the jury.

The documents which were available could only go to the issue of the credibility of alleged victims, aged 14 at the time, but not to "the more fundamental question of whether there was ever an opportunity for the offences to have been committed".

The QC argued that where "missing documents are crucial to an issue of opportunity to commit the offence, the trial cannot be fair".

The Crown, who had opposed the appeal, said it would not be seeking a retrial.

Sheikh's solicitor, Mark Newby, said after the hearing: "This case demonstrates the danger involved in such cases.

"There could be another 50 cases which should be making their way to the Court of Appeal."