Man Cleared Of 18 Serious Sex Assaults

A man's been acquitted of raping and indecently assaulting a woman.

The jury at Chichester Crown Court, West Sussex, took an hour and a half to unanimously find Dean Smitherman, 41, not guilty of 18 counts of rape and two of indecent assault following a two-week trial.

Smitherman, formerly of Hawstead Green, Havant, Hampshire, was accused of carrying out the offences against the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, between January 2002 and April last year.

He denied all the charges, telling the court they had consensual sex and the woman, now aged 26, had been blackmailing him.

Dressed in a dark grey suit and pink shirt he wept as the not guilty verdicts were returned and said "thank you'' to the seven woman, five man jury as he left the dock.