A Goole baker accused of repeatedly raping a 10-year-old girl has been cleared by a jury after his barrister told them she could have had false memories from a dream.
Michael Foster, 46, told a jury he was dumbstruck when a police officer knocked on his door and told him he was being accused of rape when he was 19-years-old.
The father of two bowed his head and slumped to his seat when a jury foreman announced he was not guilty to two charges of rape after a four-day trial at Hull Crown Court. (April 4-7).
Mr Foster of Halifax Avenue, Goole, walked to his relatives – one of whom collapsed to her knees on the concourse – and thanked his barrister. He refused to comment to the press.
Asked by his barrister John Thackray in court: “Did you ever sneak in the room at night and do anything of a sexual nature to the complainant?” He replied: “No I did not.”
Mr Thackray said: “Can you think of any reason why the complainant will make false allegations?” Mr Foster replied: “I cannot think of any reason, whatsoever.”
Mr Foster told the jury: “The first time I heard of the allegations was when Dc Bullimore came to the house. I was in the garden at the time. I was totally and utterly dumbstruck when he came around.
“I can’t understand why she said it. It has come as a complete shock. It is definitely not true. “
Defence barrister John Thackray told the jury the woman had confirmed she had buried the allegations until a dream brought them back.
He said: “It could be we have false memories of a dream. She has convinced herself it has happened – but it has not. You are hearing this account as an adult not as a 10-year-old child.
“A not guilty verdict does not mean you are calling her a liar. It is not saying it is dream related. It might be dream related or not. It means the prosecution has not reached the high standard where you can be sure.
“You have to be sure. In this case there is nothing else apart from allegation. There is no medical evidence, no forensic evidence or eyewitness evidence. You are entitled to consider the prejudice of the delay in the reporting. If she had made the allegation at the time he may have had an alibi. You may think that without that kind of evidence we cannot reach that high standard.
“She was asked was it one dream. She said no there were lots of dreams. We have nothing independent. Things like this can gather momentum. She told her husband and other people are told. It is very difficult to get the toothpaste back in the tube.”
He said Mr Foster may never know why the allegation was made. He said it was the experience of the courts that false allegations had been made and sometimes – rather chillingly – for no reason at all.
A string of character references were read to the jury about how well-liked Mr Foster was, truthful and never had a wrong word to say about anyone.
His department manager said: “He is an honest hard-working man who I can trust to work to a very high standard.” She said he always went the extra mile.
A man who has known him for 17 years said: “He is a hard-working family guy and will do anything to help anyone at the drop of a hat.”