Katie Price's stepfather cleared of rape
The stepfather of model Katie Price has been found not guilty of twice raping a woman following a group night out in a seaside resort.
Jurors cleared fence erector Paul Price, 53, of two counts of rape following a week-long trial at Chichester Crown Court in West Sussex.
Price was alleged to have first raped the woman in Worthing after following her out of a taxi when she complained of feeling sick en route to his house on March 21 last year.
The woman told the trial she then flagged down a van before getting into another taxi with Price, who then allegedly raped her a second time in woodland near his home.
But jurors took seven hours and 36 minutes to find him not guilty on both counts after Price said the woman consented to sex.
In court, relatives and friends gasped "Yes" when the jury foreman acquitted him.
Price closed his eyes and looked skywards as the verdicts were announced.
Katie Price, 38, did not attend court but in a statement read to jurors, the ex-glamour model and TV star described her stepfather as "loving" and "fun", adding: "He is always supportive in all situations and always puts us family first."
The trial heard how the allegations emerged after Price, his wife Amy, the complainant and her husband were among an eight-strong group who went to pubs and then the £50-per-head Imperial Chinese restaurant in Worthing.
After leaving the restaurant after their starters, Price told how he, his wife, the complainant and her husband got into a taxi after other members of the group left.
When she complained of feeling sick, the complainant got out of the taxi, followed by Price, before the vehicle continued to Price's house in North Drive, Angmering, carrying his wife and the complainant's husband.
Out of the taxi on Worthing seafront, Price said he and the woman laughed and joked, then started to cuddle, kiss and hold hands before she told him: "I haven't had sex for a year."
"I said, 'If you want to we can but we will have to go over here and lean over'," Price told the trial.
Asked by his defence counsel Abigail Penny what her reaction was to the suggestion, Price replied: "She didn't say no, so I led her over there."
He said he held her hand with a gentle grip and that she did not resist, adding: "If she didn't want to come, she didn't have to come. She led with me."
After intimately touching each other under their clothes, Price said he could not get an erection, telling her: "It isn't going to work, let's carry on."
After they caught another taxi, Price said they were laughing and joking, and part-way through the journey back to his house, he told her: "If you want to try again we will have to get out here."
Price said she was "fine" about leaving the taxi in order to try having sex a second time before they walked over to some bushes.
After kissing and cuddling, Price said they attempted to have sex again but for a second time that night he could not get an erection.
They instead returned to Price's nearby house where his wife and the complainant's husband were, and he said the woman had a glass of red wine while he locked up and sorted out his dogs.
In the morning, Price said the woman had left his house.
Later, he received a text message from her husband urging him to stay away and saying he should consider himself "a lucky man" they were not calling the police.
Giving evidence from behind a screen, the woman said she feared for her life and said she got back in a taxi with Price because she thought it the "safest thing" to get back to her husband.
Breaking down in tears, she said: "I thought I wouldn't get out of the woods alive."
Days after the incidents, she telephoned Price. She told the court: "I basically rang him back and said that he was disgusting and to never contact me again."
She denied claims by Ms Penny that she was a "willing and enthusiastic participant" in having sex with Price, or that she had kissed him back or touched him intimately.
And she rejected claims she had told the group at the Chinese restaurant she had a microchip in her back to enable her to alert members linked to London's notorious Richardson crime gang.
The woman also denied suggestions by Ms Penny that she had drunk more than she previously stated in a video police interview, or that she had drunk vodka neat.
The woman scotched claims she was an "attention seeker". And asked by Ms Penny whether she had spoken to a journalist or agent about the allegations, she said her only motivation was "justice".
But in his defence, Price said she consented to sex, that she never resisted or told him to stop and that she returned with him to his house following the alleged attacks where she and her husband were staying that night.
Price - who has no previous convictions - said he was "amazed" when the allegations emerged, and told the trial: "She was enjoying it, like I was."
He added: "I wouldn't force any woman to do anything they didn't want to."
He was arrested in the early hours of March 24 after jurors heard the woman was initially reluctant to go to the police because of the high profile of the Price family and concerns the case might impact her livelihood.