Man not guilty of rape

A BURNETT Heads man has been found not guilty of raping his wife.

The jury of eight women and four men took just over an hour to deliver their verdict at Bundaberg District Court yesterday, after a three-and-a-half-day trial.

The court was told last week that the 37-year-old man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had entered the bedroom he shared with his wife on January 6 last year and forced her to have sex with him.

The man denied the accusations, and pleaded not guilty to rape.

In his summing up of the evidence, Judge David Searles told the jury they should consider the evidence carefully, particularly the issue of whether the man genuinely and reasonably believed his wife was agreeing to sex.

“If you find the defendant not guilty of rape, you should consider the alternative charge of sexual assault,” Judge Searles said.

“This is a case that very much depends on whether you believe the complainant.”

The judge said the case hinged on three main factors: did the man try and have sex with his wife; did he succeed in penetration; and did he honestly and reasonably believed he had consent to do so.

He summarised the prosecution's case, saying the jury should take into account the woman's demeanour, consistency and the coherency of her evidence.

“The prosecution says there was clear evidence from the complainant that she was not consenting, and the complainant gave evidence that she told him ‘no, stop' on several occasions,” Judge Searles said.

The judge outlined the defence's arguments that the woman gave contradictory evidence.

“She gave evidence that she had lost her love for the defendant, but then conceded that she had sent him an SMS on New Year's Day saying ‘I love you',” he said.

“She also initially said that the last date of consensual sexual congress was in December, and then later said it was the night before the alleged incident took place in January.”

After several days of listening to evidence, the jury was not convinced and acquitted him both of rape and the lesser, alternative charge of indecent assault.

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