Brandon Horne's supporters hugged, cried and cheered as the 22-year-old Otaki man accused of raping a woman in Dannevirke was found not guilty.
The jury of eight men and three women took four hours and 45 minutes to find Horne not guilty of rape, with the verdict delivered in the Palmerston North District Court this afternoon.
There was never an argument over intercourse happening - during his police interview, Horne admitted he and the woman had sex - leaving the jury to decide if there was consent.
Crown prosecutor Daniel Flinn said the openly gay woman could not have consented.
She was ''legless'' after drinking five or six Cody's ready-to-drink spirits and a bottle of beer before and during a 21st party that night.
She had vomited in the bathroom before becoming comatose in the bath, and had to be helped into bed.
She said in her evidence she woke up to find Horne on top of her with "his tongue down my throat", her pants off and him having sex with her.
But defence lawyer Paul Knowsley argued the woman did consent.
In Horne's police interview, he said the woman had kissed him back after he kissed her.
Knowsley said the woman would have sobered up before going to bed, and her pants would have been too tight to be taken off without her knowing.
While Flinn said being a lesbian meant she was far less likely to consent, Knowsley said her sexuality was why she said she was raped after someone found her having sex with Horne.
''The discovery of what she was doing threatened and struck at the heart of her sexual identity.''
After the verdict was delivered, Judge David Smith thanked the jury.
''Trials like these are not pleasant.
''Your attention to the evidence is greatly appreciated.''
- Manawatu Standard
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