Colne soldier speaks of relief after being cleared of rape

Lancashire Telegraph: Shaun Aspin with girlfriend Michaela Barraclough Shaun Aspin with girlfriend Michaela Barraclough

A soldier who was injured while serving in Afghanistan has spoken of his eight-month ‘nightmare’ after being cleared of rape.

Kingsman Shaun Aspin, 24, wiped away tears as a jury found him not guilty of orally raping a young woman after a five-day trial at Burnley Crown Court yesterday. After the verdict, the Duke of Lancaster regiment soldier hugged his family, girlfriend Michaela Barraclough and friends who had supported him throughout the hearing and said: "I'm relieved it's all over."

He told of his shock at being accused of rape and the 'nightmare' eight months with the case hanging over him since he was arrested and charged over the allegation in February.

He said he was now looking forward to spending time with his family.

Born and brought up in the Colne area, he has been banned from Burnley and Pendle during the last eight months because of bail conditions and has been living in camp. He said he was now hoping to have some time on leave before going back to work.

Aspin, of Portland Street, Colne, said he felt like he had 'the whole world on my shoulders' during the hearing.

He said: "I won't ever be able to put this behind me."

The court had heard claims Aspin had forced the woman to give him oral sex in the bathroom of a house in Colne, in February. The woman, who had told police he had hit her, said she had locked herself in the bathroom and had called the police.

Aspin, who had been drinking in a Colne pub earlier in the evening, had told the jury he had thought he and the woman were going to have sexual intercourse at the house.

He said she pulled him upstairs and performed the sex act on him voluntarily. Asked by his barrister Kathryn Johnson: "Did you rape her?" he had replied:" No I didn't."

Aspin was injured in 2010 and had been flown back to Britain from Afghanistan after just three weeks serving in Helmand Province. He had been injured while on foot patrol, after he and his sergeant were hit by an improvised explosive device. Aspin had told the jury his sergeant had lost his legs.

After arriving back in the UK, he had been taken to the critical care unit at Selly Oak Hospital, in Birmingham for treatment to neck fractures and severe shrapnel wounds.

He had been taken to the Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre in Surrey after surgery.

Giving evidence during the trial, Aspin, who has been in the Army just over four years and is based at Catterick, told the jury he had been left with flashbacks and nightmares after the incident.

After the trial was over, Aspin admitted two counts of possessing ammunition without a firearms certificate on February 17 and was fined £400, with a £15 victim surcharge.

Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Gibson said the ammunition belonged to the Army, Aspin had plainly been using them training and failed to hand them in at the end of training.

He continued: "I accept you took it home on the basis you were forgetful and I accept there was no sinister purpose behind it."

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