The trial of a former deputy manager at the Forest Community Centre in Bordon accused of making hundreds of indecent images of a child has been dropped after his death on Boxing Day.

Michael Rutland, 60, formerly of Horseshoe Crescent in Bordon, was set to take the stand at Winchester Crown Court on January 11, to answer charges including making 208 of the most serious Category A indecent images of children.

Instead, a warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to appear for the plea and trial management hearing. And in a later statement, Winchester Crown Court confirmed the hearing was declared “of no legal effect” and the file was closed because of Mr Rutland’s death.

Mr Rutland’s death certificate is dated December 26, 2022, and the cause of death is “undetermined”. It is understood Mr Rutland’s body was discovered close to Hastings Pier in East Sussex.

Sussex Police said in a statement: “Police received a report of concerns for a man near Hastings Pier, at about 8.20am on Monday, December 26. Sadly, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

“His next-of-kin have been informed. There were no suspicious circumstances, and a file has been prepared for HM Coroner.”

Mr Rutland was to stand trial accused of making hundreds of Category A, B and C indecent images of a child, and possessing “extreme” pornographic images of a person having sex with animals.

Category A images are defined by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as those involving penetrative sexual activity, sexual activity with an animal, or sadism. Category B images as those involving non-penetrative sexual activity, and Category C images as those not falling within categories A or B.

All of these above offences are alleged to have taken place between November 10, 2018, and October 8, 2021, in Bordon – during which time Mr Rutland was working at the Forest Community Centre.

The centre is run by the Whitehill & Bordon Community Association and hosts the offices of Whitehill Town Council, Citizens Advice and many regular users including a pre-school and several baby and toddler groups.

Mr Rutland had been released on unconditional bail prior to his January 11 hearing, and had earlier pleaded guilty to possessing Class A drugs.

The CPS definition of ‘making’ an indecent image is “to cause an indecent image to exist, to produce an indecent image through action, or to ‘bring about’ an indecent image”. This includes everything from forwarding an email of an indecent image to simply downloading a file on to a hard drive.