Jury hands down not guilty verdict

A JURY has found an Emerald man not guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman in 2008.

The man, now 23, pleaded not guilty in the Emerald District Court to two counts of rape.

It took the jury of seven men and five women less than two hours on Tuesday to return the verdict following three days of court proceedings which began last Friday.

Crown prosecutor Joshua Phillips opened the trial before Judge Marshall Irwin and told the court the man had gone to the woman’s house to help clean out a bedroom.

They watched a movie together before the woman went to go outside for a cigarette, but the man blocked her way and raped her.

Mr Phillips said the woman did not fight back or protest the man’s advances because of a medical condition she suffers from.

Defence barrister Jeff Clarke did not contest the fact sex occurred, but told the court the issue of consent was paramount.

He argued his client acted under an honest and reasonable, but mistaken belief, the woman was consenting.

Throughout the trial the court heard testimonies from the woman’s sister and her partner at the time, who respectively gave evidence about the woman’s emotional state after the event and what had transpired during the day.

Emerald police Constable Angela Nichols took the woman’s initial complaint and told the court, via telephone link, the woman was upset during an interview with police.

She took the woman to the hospital for a medical examination by Dr Ewan McPhee, who also gave evidence.

He said there were no signs of physical injury or trauma on the woman.

Judge Irwin summed up the facts of the case in a two-hour address to the court before he retired the jury to deliberate their verdict on Tuesday.

Under Queensland law, any sexual act done without consent constitutes rape or sexual assault.

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