A former police officer accused of committing numerous child sex offences in Devon is believed to have committed suicide in Canada.
Thomas Stevens was alleged to have committed the crimes against two youths in East Devon in the 1970s.
The 50-year-old was originally from Honiton but had been living in Canada up until his death. He was found dead in a churchyard after he is understood to have taken his own life. An inquest into his death is expected to take place in Canada.
Stevens was due to stand trial this month at Exeter Crown Court after denying 20 sexual offences at a previous hearing.
Fourteen involved a girl and six involved a boy, both were aged under 16 at the time. At a hearing in March, Stevens pleaded not guilty to four offences of indecent assault, eight charges of indecency with a child and another charge which involved a sexual offence.
He also denied three indecent assaults, three charges of indecency with a child and another charge involving a sexual offence, against a boy who was under 16, in another part of the country.
Stevens was released on conditional bail until his trial and was understood to have been planning to return to the UK to attend the hearing. He worked as a police officer with Wiltshire Police between 1986 and 1999.
It is understood that a complaint involving an alleged indecent exposure was made against Stevens while he was a serving police officer in Wiltshire.
Stevens later moved to Devon and his last official address given to the court was Well Street, Torrington, in North Devon.
Devon and Cornwall police confirmed his death and said family members had been informed.
Detective Inspector Sam De Reya said police were not looking for anyone else in connection with the alleged sex offences.
“Canadian authorities have confirmed the recent death of Thomas Stevens, aged 50, originally from Honiton,” she said. “Stevens was the suspect for a number of historic sexual offences in the East Devon and Wiltshire area and was due to attend the Crown Court imminently regarding the alleged offences.
“Police are not looking for anyone else in connection with this inquiry following his death. The immediate family have been informed.
“Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are in the process of informing victims and witnesses in relation to the prosecution case.”
A spokeswoman from Wiltshire Police said: “I can confirm that Thomas Stevens worked for Wiltshire Police as a police officer between 1986 and 1999. He left the force in 1999 for health reasons.
“We cannot comment on an investigation which another force is dealing with.”