Court of Appeal clears Coast man of rape conviction

A NOOSA hospitality worker, accused of raping a colleague, has been acquitted after the Court of Appeal overturned his conviction.

The 24-year-old man was jailed in January for 5.5 years after a trial in the Maroochydore District Court alleging he forced himself on the 15-year-old girl in his bedroom in 2008.

He argued in the Court of Appeal that the jury verdict was unreasonable and he had suffered a miscarriage of justice.

He lost an application in June seeking subpoenas for material from the girl's psychologist and treating doctors because they "might have cast doubt on her credibility".

But three Court of Appeal justices, in a judgment delivered on Friday, could not explain the jury's verdict after examining all the evidence.

The girl's mother had asked the man to drop her home after work but he detoured to his home first so he could get changed to go out that night.

She claimed he raped her on his bed after he had a shower.

Justice Hugh Fraser said the evidence created doubt about the man's guilt which could not be "explained away by the jury's advantage in seeing and hearing all the evidence".

He said there were many inconsistencies, including "significant discrepancies" between her description of the room she claimed she was raped in and that of his mother and sister.

Justice Fraser said there were also inconsistencies between the girl's first and second police interviews.

He noted the mother's testimony, that she was home and the girl never went upstairs, was important in determining the case and said even the trial judge had difficulty "in reconciling the verdict" with the mother's evidence.

Justice Margaret McMurdo said the rape allegations "may well be true" but the girl made not complaint to police for at least seven months so there was no medical or other evidence to support her claim.

She said the girl's evidence was "internally inconsistent on peripheral issues" and she could have learned the layout of the unit through the accused man's sister's photos on social networking site MySpace.

"After giving full weight to the jury verdict and the fact the (girl) must have been a convincing witness, I am left with a reasonable doubt as to the (accused's) guilt," she said.



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