An Altnagelvin Hospital employee has been found not guilty of raping a 21-year-old woman in the bedroom of his family home in Londonderry last year.
Following a four-day trial before Judge Stephen Fowler the 11 jurors found Stuart Alson Ward (31) not guilty by a majority 10-1 verdict of raping the woman on June 26 of last year.
The jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict in relation to a second charge that the defendant had sexually touched the complainant on the same date.
The defendant wept uncontrollably in the dock after he was acquitted of both offences. Upon his release he embraced members of his family, several of whom were also crying.
He also shook hands with his defence solicitor and barristers.
The complainant, who was in the Londonderry courtroom with members of her family for the not guilty verdicts, also wept.
The prosecution case against the defendant had been he committed the offences in his Lyndhurst Road home in the Waterside area of the city.
It was alleged by the complainant that together with her female friend, she'd met the defendant in the Bonds Street area of the city as she and her friend were returning from a night out in the city centre.
The complainant, who had previously gone out with the defendant, said she then agreed to return to the defendant's home for a few drinks.
Her girlfriend, who had left, later returned to give the complainant her mobile phone which she had left behind in her girlfriend's car.
It was alleged that the defendant then “took the hump” when the complainant sent and received text messages on her mobile phone when they were both in the defendant's bedroom.
The complainant accused him of sexually touching her before raping her on the bed. The defendant told the jury that the complainant had initiated the sexual touching and had consented to having sex with him.
Following just over two hours of deliberation the jurors returned with not guilty verdicts after which Judge Fowler told the acquitted man: “You are now free to go.”