A FORMER soldier who was accused of raping a woman he met in a bar has been cleared by a jury.

The jury at Teesside Crown Court found Stephen Shayo not guilty of rape after about four hours worth of deliberations over the course of two days.

The 34-year-old defendant, who was previously based at Army barracks in Catterick, North Yorkshire, and had hopes of becoming an officer, said afterwards he wished the woman had told the truth.

He said: “It’s had a massive impact and taken a year away of my life.”

University educated Mr Shayo, of Allendale Road, Sunderland, was said by the prosecution to have got into bed with the heavily intoxicated woman after following her home and taken advantage of her.

They had met earlier and chatted about the EU referendum outcome on the grass outside Louis’ Bar, in Catterick, a popular late night drinking haunt for members of the armed forces.

The complainant was said to have told Mr Shayo: “Please, please no” and tried unsuccessfully to push him away.

Mr Shayo’s account stated that the alleged victim had invited him back to her home for a one-night stand and they took a taxi together.

But after sexual intercourse took place, she became angry at him leaving.

The alleged victim accepted having had a lot to drink after initially meeting friends in nearby Richmond and also dining at an Indian restaurant.

She also drank shots at Louis’ Bar and was said to be two times over the legal drink drive limit.

The woman rang her ex-boyfriend and also the police after the encounter with the defendant on June 25 last year.

Mr Shayo, who left the Army during the course of court proceedings against him, was arrested and charged with rape, which he denied.

Judge James Brown, sitting at Teesside Crown Court, told the defendant he was free to leave after the verdict and also thanked the jury for their efforts.