A man has spoken of his relief after being cleared of assault during a "master-slave" sex session inspired by erotic novel Fifty Shades Of Grey.
Steven Lock, 43, and a woman in her 40s had begun a relationship based around sado-masochistic role play after meeting on a dating website. But prosecutors alleged that in August last year, Mr Lock overstepped the boundaries of fantasy as he chained the woman "like a dog" to his bedroom floor and whipped her repeatedly with a rope.
He denied assault causing actual bodily harm, saying the woman had consented. At Ipswich Crown Court, a jury of 10 men and two women took just over two hours to find Lock, of Plover Road, Ipswich, not guilty. Outside court, Mr Lock, a jeweller, said he was relieved that the jury "had seen sense". He added: "It's the right verdict. This case should never have reached court. As far as I'm concerned it was a consensual activity between adults."
During the trial, Mr Lock was asked by defence counsel Roger Thomson if he and the victim had read Fifty Shades Of Grey. He replied: "That's where we got the idea from."
The court heard the couple took part in group sex and bondage together and the woman had the words "Property of Steven Lock" tattooed around her genitals. The woman had also signed a contract promising Mr Lock free use of her body and entitling him to lash her if she did not follow his rules.
Mr Lock told the court the woman had consented to the activity and the couple had agreed on the code word "Red", which was to be used if either of them began to feel uncomfortable. The woman, who told the court she broke down in tears and screamed as she was beaten 14 times with the rope, agreed that she never used this word.
She said: "I knew there would be pain involved and I knew I wasn't going to like it but I'd agreed to it and had to follow it through."
Mr Thomson said Mr Lock felt bad about what he had done. Giving evidence, Mr Lock said: "It was supposed to be kinky fun, I didn't want her to cry."
She suffered bruising to the buttocks and neck. After the lashings, the couple had sex then Mr Lock left her chained to the floor while he went on his computer, the court heard.
Mr Thomson told jurors that Mr Lock accepted he had caused the woman harm but compared the situation to a "mistimed tackle" in a football match in which all parties have agreed to take part.