A PUB landlord has been cleared of rape and three sexual assault charges.
Benjamin Richard Iles, 31, licensee of the Marlbororough Arms in St John Street, Chester, was found not guilty on all four counts.
A jury of seven men and five women took three hours to return verdicts at Liverpool Crown Court.
Iles, of Martins Lane, Hargrave, near Chester, hugged supporters as he left court. A family member said it had been a “horrendous 12 months” and Iles said was “delighted” and “relieved”.
He had been accused of raping a 21-year-old woman on the morning of August 27, 2012, when, it was alleged, she was too drunk to consent to sex. The landlord agreed sex had taken place but said it was consensual.
Summing up, Judge Andrew Hatton said the complainant spent the evening drinking at another city centre pub, and later had more drinks at Iles’ pub.
Iles, who was known to the complainant, saw her at the first bar and then again at the Marlbororough Arms. He described their relationship as “just friends” but “flirtatious”.
A female friend who gave evidence said by about 6am the complainant “could barely stand or string a sentence together”.
Other witnesses described her as “completely out of it” and “stumbling and wobbling all over the place”.
Iles was seen on CCTV footage pouring a bucket of water over the complainant before putting the bucket on her head. He also poured a drink down her throat, said he thought she was “having fun, having a bit of a laugh”.
He said he’d seen her before “being lively and charging around and losing her balance”. He thought she was “putting it on”.
At about 7am Iles and the female friend helped the complainant into a taxi and all three travelled to the friend’s home.
The friend said she took the complainant home because she was worried about her. Isles said the suggestion had been to continue socialising.
There was further discrepancy between accounts of events at the friend’s home where footage Iles had filmed showed the complainant moving unsteadily.
The friend said she asked Iles to carry the complainant to bed and she covered her with bed clothes.
Iles said when he got onto the bed, the complainant put her leg over him and they both started kissing. The kissing was passionate, he said, and led to sex.
“At no point was she sleeping or objecting,” he said. “She knew what was going on.. I had no reason to think she wouldn’t have remembered it afterwards.”
At about 10am, the friend said the complainant came to her “crying hysterically”, asking how she could have let Iles share her room and said she had to leave.