A company boss who filmed himself using a sex toy on a woman while he had sex with her has been cleared by a jury of rape after a two-week trial.
Mechanical engineer James Snape, 39, spent three years denying claims of administering drink to the woman to carry out his own sexual fetish.
A jury of seven men and five women took six hours to find Mr Snape not guilty of five charges of rape, four charges of sexual assault and one charge of assault by penetration. He was accused of assaulting two women – one of whom claimed he had put Viagra in her tea.
Mr Snape puffed out his cheeks and held his head up proudly as the jury foreman read out all 10 not guilty verdicts. He had been supported by his mother and girlfriend at Hull Crown Court.
Judge David Tremberg agreed to award him costs. Mr Snape funded the £60,000 fight to defend the charges himself. The women were not in court to hear the verdicts.
In a rare step, Mr Snape did not enter the witness box to give evidence. Prosecutors said it prevented cross-examination about why he had Viagra in his wallet – for which he had no medical need.
Snape, a father of two, of Goole, told police he had never used Viagra or given it to either woman. He said he had it only after being told by a pal “what it could do”.
He was also found with a 10-second video clip on his phone of him using a sex toy on one woman. The jury had to decide if the clip showed her consenting as Mr Snape insisted. In police interview, Mr Snape literally laughed off one rape allegation which came on the eve of a trial. He labelled all the claims preposterous.
Speaking outside court, Mr Snape said: “It is the end of three years of misery. The truth has come out. This has cost me £60,000 and has damaged my business. I knew from the very start I was innocent. The people of Goole have supported me. I have had no malice from them. The case was based on malicious lies – it was unbelievable.”
Following his arrest for rape, Mr Snape said he had never had sex against anyone’s will and never spiked drinks. He said the women who alleged four rapes consented. He initially denied it was him in the clip and said it was sent to make him jealous.
Defence barrister William Harbage, QC, said one woman had made no complaint at the time and had acted “like a woman scorned.” He said she was a “staggeringly devious” character who had set out to cause trouble and lied to the police.
He said the second woman’s claim of being raped on the bonnet of a car was “utterly implausible.” He said the final rape claim had been made on the eve of a scheduled trial and there was no rational explanation for her not telling the police before. He said the complaints to police had come in drips and drabs which amounted to “mud slinging” to “blacken” his name.