A MAN who was alleged to have raped a woman while she slept has been cleared.

Anthony Hillary was formally found not guilty by a jury at Teesside Crown Court on the directions of Judge Peter Bowers - who ruled that there was not enough evidence for them to consider.

The prosecution’s case had been that the alleged victim was asleep and was therefore not in a position to consent to sex.

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Mr Hillary, 66, of Leazes Lane, St Helen Auckland, County Durham, had denied rape and said any sexual activity had been consensual.

He also said he would never have sex with a woman while she was asleep.

The trial was into its third day of an expected four when it was abruptly brought to an end by the judge. Relatives who expressed relief at the verdict afterwards said the prosecution should never have been brought.

Judge Bowers also discharged the jury in respect of a second charge of doing an act intended to pervert the course of justice, which the defendant had also denied.