A MAN has been cleared of raping a woman while she slept.

Michael McDonagh, 23, of Gifhorn Road, Canvey, was charged with one count of rape at Basildon Crown Court but was quickly and unanimously cleared by the jury of nine men and three women following a four day trial.

The accusation arose after the complainant had been on a night out with friends.

Mr McDonagh had also been on a night out and both ended up back at the same house on Canvey.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court she went to sleep alone but woke up to find Mr McDonagh, raping her.

The court heard it was not a question of whether the sexual act had taken place, this was not disputed, but whether there was consent.

The court had previously heard Mr McDonagh had sent texts to the woman immediately after the incident apologising and asking her to come back to bed after she left the room.

However Mr McDonagh denied he had forced himself onto her.

Karl Volz, defending, told the court she had been flirting with him and instigated the sexual contact.

Mr Volz told the complainant during cross examination: “You chose to flirt overtly with him in front of others that night, you chose to go to bed with him.

“I’m suggesting later, you changed your mind, perhaps due to impulsiveness and in part due to alcohol, and you instigated sexual activity, you had consensual sex with him.”

The court also heard Mr McDonagh sent a desperate text to a friend when he became aware of the police probe which read: “Mate, I’m scared. Had sex with [complainant] Saturday night and she told police I raped her.

“What do they take me for? If I go down for this, I might as well end my life. I didn’t do anything wrong - I didn’t rape her.”

Summing up for the jury, Mr Volz noted the lack of forensic evidence and witnesses and said: “It really does come down to her word against his.”

Mr McDonagh has been cleared of the offence. The woman cannot be named.