A MAN and a woman have both been dramatically cleared of rape.
One of them, hairdresser Paul Kershaw, 34, later revealed he had received a death threat and now had to “watch his back”.
He and co-defendant Lisa Rodda, 40, were jubilant at Mold Crown Court yesterday afternoon after they were cleared by a jury.
Kershaw was said to have sexually assaulted and raped a Flintshire woman at a house in Hawarden after they met in Chester after a race meeting in June, 2010.
Rodda was alleged to have held the victim down on both occasions.
Kershaw, of Claypit Lane, Rowton, Chester, and Rodda, 40, of Ashton-upon-Mersey, Sale, were accused of rape and sexual assault. Both denied the allegations during a trial which lasted a week-and-a-half.
Judge Peter Heywood summed up the case to the jury yesterday morning. The jury retired to deliberate at lunchtime and after a two hour retirement acquitted both defendants.
Rodda cried with relief in the dock and held her head in her hands but left court without comment.
Kershaw, who punched the air when the verdicts were returned, said later he was always confident about what the verdicts would be.
“It has caused a lot of upset and a lot of stress along the way but I had done nothing wrong,” he said.
“I did not always have confidence in the criminal justice system because there are innocent people in jail. But I do now.”
In a prepared statement, written on his behalf by his friend and Tarporley business partner Rebecca Hughes, he said: “I have received a death threat and don’t feel I am able to go about my everyday business without having to watch my back.”
The law prevents rape complainants from being publicly identified, whether a charge is proved or not. He said he would like the law changed so the complainant could be named and shamed.
“I am relieved justice has been served,” he said in his statement.
Miss Hughes said: “Paul has been a good friend and for the past three years we have worked extremely hard to build up a fantastic business.
“It is devastating to think one woman's false accusation could cause so much destruction to his life and business.
“Hopefully with the continued support of our loyal client base, friends and family, we will be back on track and back to normal.”
In court the complainant, a woman in her 40s, told the jury her life had been “absolutely devastated” as a result of what she said occurred.
But defending barristers Jonathan Duffy and Alastair Edy accused her of lying.
The woman said she had been a strong and confident woman, straight talking and direct. “I never expected to feel this way about what happened,” she said.
She said she had not been able to sleep, went over it in her mind like a video and had been unable to go out.
But Mr Edie, for Rodda, produced Facebook photographs which he said showed the complainant posing with an inflated sex toy at a barbecue shortly after the incident.
Another made it look as if she was touching the breasts of two women, he said.
See full story in the Leader