Two men cleared of raping teenage schoolgirls
A man wept with relief as a jury unanimously acquitted him and his friend of raping a teenage schoolgirl during a drunken sex session.
Speaking outside Belfast Crown Court moments after he and Neil Jamison (21) were cleared, 22-year-old Paul Hamilton said he was “relieved that it's all over and the truth has come out”.
“It's been a nightmare for the past 18 months and the verdict is a weight lifted off my shoulders,” said Mr Hamilton.
Earlier the jury delivered their unanimous verdicts on four counts of rape and four further charges of sexual activity with a child.
Mr Hamilton had been accused of raping two girls and Mr Jamison of twice raping one of them.
During the trial, which began on October 13, the jury heard that the then 13-year-old girls had gone out in the early hours of April 26 last year on the pretence of getting an asthma inhaler.
They met Mr Jamison and another man as they walked home and ended up going to a party and then onto Mr Hamilton's Avoca Street home where they alleged they were raped.
Mr Hamilton and Mr Jamison maintained they did not know either girl’s true age, and that the sex was consensual.