VERDICT: Not guilty of rape
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Former Honiton man was bullied into phoning police and making a false confession, jury hears.
A shop worker has been cleared of raping a teenager after telling a jury he was bullied into phoning police and making a false confession.
Harry Stoneman was tape recorded as he made a 999 call in which he told the operator: “I want someone to arrest me. I raped a girl. We talked about it and decided this was the best option. We had a chat and I realise what I did was wrong. One thing led to another but she asked me to stop.”
Stoneman, 20, was cleared of rape by a jury at Exeter Crown Court in less than two hours after telling them he had been forced into making his call by threats to his life.
He claimed he had been lured to the alleged victim’s home in Honiton late at night by a friend of hers who told him she was in distress and needed comforting.
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He had then been locked in a room with the complainant, who was 18 at the time, and two friends who threatened him until he agreed to make the call to the police.
Once out of the house he did not retract his confession because he still felt under threat, the jury were told. He made no comment during two different police interviews but told one officer “I did her wrong”.
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Stoneman, formerly of Whitebridges, Honiton, but now living in Exeter, denied raping the girl in August 2011 and was found not guilty and discharged.
The complainant said she had known Stoneman for about a month at the time of the incident but they were friends and not lovers.
She alleged she let him sofa surf at her home because he had been thrown out of his own by his mother but he then came into her room and raped her, ignoring pleas to stop.
Her cousin, who was one of two friends who was with her when Stoneman called the police, said she had told him she had locked him in the house but it was not true.
She said there had been some threats made but she did not think Stoneman took them seriously.
Stoneman, who was also 18 at the time, said he and the girl had been having a consensual affair for weeks before she claimed he raped her. He claimed she was also having regular sex with her live-in boyfriend and another lover.
He said she had taken him upstairs for sex while her partner was working a night shift and, although she asked him to stop at one stage, she then pulled him closer and they resumed sex.
Stoneman said he had no idea why the woman later told several friends and family members she had been held down and raped.
Stoneman told the jury he made the call to the police because of threats.
He said: “I did not rape her. I only told the police that because I was being threatened with my life. She told me I knew what I had done to her. I did not know what to say.
“I was shocked by the entire incident. They said they knew people who would take me to a field and assault me sexually and the woman said her father would track me down and find me.
“I broke down. I did not know what was going on. I feared for my life. That is why I did as they asked. They said they wanted justice and asked me to phone the police.
“I called the police because I was being threatened. Their words were reverberating through me. The only way out of the situation was to get the police there to help.
“I don’t remember telling the police I had done her wrong. I was a whole box of emotions. I was upset at what had happened and still terrified for my life.
“The only explanation I can give for her making these allegations is that she was upset. I thought it might reflect something much deeper that she was covering it up with.
“When I said I did her wrong I meant I had let her down in our friendship.”