CHARGES have been dropped against four people arrested as part of a sexual exploitation inquiry in which a home in Chard was raided.

The investigation centred on Yeovil and began last July after police received information about alleged sex offences in the town.

Enquiries led to a warrant being carried out at a home in Chard, another in Yeovil and a business premises in Yeovil under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Jonathan Smillie, 28, of Hathermead Gardens, Yeovil; Luke Fuller, 24, of Kingston, Yeovil; Eleanor Dollery, 20, of Preston Road, Yeovil, and Meetu Miah, 37, of Earl Street, Yeovil, saw charges against them dropped at Taunton Crown Court.

Avon and Somerset Police confirmed the charges were dropped because there was ‘no longer a realistic prospect of conviction’.

Nicola Haywood, head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s South West Complex Case Unit, said: “The CPS authorised Avon and Somerset Police to charge these four people in line with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which states that there must be sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution must be in the public interest.

“Following further recent enquiries conducted as part of the continual review process, which is normal practice in complex investigations such as this, information came to light which meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. This means the case cannot continue and we have therefore today offered no evidence.”

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones said: “The investigation is very much ongoing and we are working very closely with our partners to investigate sexual exploitation in the Yeovil area and ensure any victims are identified, supported and protected.

“We have a number of people who are on police bail as part of this inquiry and we have two women who have entered the National Referral Mechanism, a national system set up to help victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking.”