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Man accused of rape found not guilty

Man accused of rape found not guilty

Friday 08 November 2019

Man accused of rape found not guilty

A 36-year-old man has been found not guilty of raping and physically assaulting a woman in Guernsey.

Christopher Goulding, who has been on trial in Guernsey's Royal Court this week, had already pleaded guilty to one other count of physical assault against the complainant - who is being referred to as Miss A - and he has been released on bail until he is sentenced for that offence.

However, he had denied the two further allegations of assault and another of rape, claiming they never happened.

Over the course of his short trial, nine Jurats heard evidence from Miss A herself, while the defendant chose not to speak.

The complainant accused Goulding of headbutting her in 2015 and possibly punching her, but said she couldn't remember the order of the alleged attacks.

She then claimed that, in February 2016, the defendant grabbed her by the throat and spat in her face before going on to rape her later that evening.

court entrance

Pictured: The trial was heard in Guernsey's Royal Court.

In his closing speech, defence Advocate Andrew Ayres said Miss A had been "vague" and "unreliable" in her evidence. He claimed that her body language throughout her interview with police was "unusual" and that "she was blinking at quite a fast rate".

Before the Jurats left the court to consider their verdict this morning, Deputy Bailiff Richard McMahon reminded them that they would have to be completely sure the allegations happened in order to deliver a guilty verdict.

"You must be sure that the complainant did not reasonably believe she [Miss A] was consenting," he explained. "Submission is not consent. An exercise of free choice can lead to reluctant agreement and that is not the same as submission. If consent is given reluctantly, it is still consent. There is a difference between free agreement and mere submission.

"Some people can make assumptions of what constitutes rape. There really is no stereotype for a rape, or a rapist, or a victim of rape.

"Some [victims] will protest, some will fight and some will freeze. Freezing is not consent."

Mr McMahon asked that the Jurats did not assume Goulding's guilt based on the fact that he had not given evidence.

He also told them not to base their decisions on the time passed before the allegations were made.

"It would be wrong to assume that every person who has been a victim of sexual offences would report it straight away," he said. "There is no classic or typical response. A late complaint does not necessarily signify a false complaint."

After deliberating for around 45 minutes, the Jurats came to a verdict of not guilty for all three charges, with a ratio of eight-to-one.

Goulding is due to be sentenced next month for the count of assault that he had previously pleaded guilty to. He has been released on bail until then, with a condition not to contact or attempt to contact Miss A.

Pictured top: The island's Royal Court House.

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