A MARRIED father of two held his head in his hands and sobbed with relief as a jury cleared him of 20 counts of rape and indecent assault, bringing to an end a nightmare 19-month ordeal.
Dean Smitherman was accused of the brutal rape of a 26-year-old woman who claimed he demanded sex to pay off a debt.
The jury of eight women and four men took just 90 minutes to find him not guilty of all the charges.
The woman claimed it happened on a number of occasions between 2002 and 2010 in secluded woodland.
The 41-year-old, who gave the court an address of Hawstead Green, Leigh Park, admitted having sex with the woman on three occasions because she threatened to tell his wife they were having an affair if he didn’t.
He denied all charges against him and said the woman had in fact been blackmailing him and drained him of between £2,000 and £3,000.
He was forced to watch his wife of 15-years, Dawn, take the witness stand to answer questions about their sex life during the two-week trial at Chichester Crown Court, which ended yesterday.
Mrs Smitherman’s evidence against the woman was damning.
She told how she always suspected the accuser had a crush on her husband as she would make a point of chatting to her, asking how Mr Smitherman was, and requested her as a friend on Facebook despite them barely knowing each other.
She even made a point of waving to Mr Smitherman in front of his wife just days before his arrest in April last year.
The defence argued that it was not the behaviour of someone who was regularly being raped by Mr Smitherman.
The court heard how she made a previous false rape claim about an ex-boyfriend which was not investigated
As he left the dock Mr Smitherman mouthed ‘thank you’ to the jury.