A married father has been cleared of a brutal rape of a woman in an alleyway at night.
Polish immigrant Marcin Gorniak showed his relief as the jury of seven men and five women returned their verdict after almost four hours today.
Judge Jeremy Carey told them: “I am not going to comment on the case, because it is inappropriate for judges to talk about it in these circumstances.
Alleyway off Corkwell Street, Chatham
“You now know what it is like to make difficult decisions juries have to make in cases of this kind.
"Essentially, the headline of this case would be: ‘Woman on her own late at night raped in alleyway’.
“If left like that people would no doubt say: ‘How on earth can a jury acquit?’ But you now know it is not as straight forward as that.”
Maidstone Crown Court heard how the mother, in her early 30s, was separated from friends after leaving a club in Chatham in the early hours of July 28 last year.
She did not have her phone or any money, so she went to get help nearby. She went into the alleyway off Corkwell Street and was attacked and raped, the court heard.
“I didn’t stop fighting the whole time,” she said. “I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. I think my strength has come from nowhere, thinking of my children to make sure I didn’t die.”
Louise Sweet, defending, told her: “I am going to suggest to you that Mr Gorniak did not have sex with you at all?”
The woman replied: “I understand that. It is not correct.”
Gorniak, of High Street, Chatham, denied rape, claiming he had no sexual contact with the woman.
He said he had followed her to the area after he and friends saw she was drunk in the street. He was also drunk.
He claimed he went into the alleyway after shouting to the woman but did not see her or anybody else there.
Asked if he raped her, he replied through an interpreter: “No, I did not.”
An expert told the jury Gorniak could be considered a “potential contributor” to DNA on the inside and outside of the woman’s knickers and inside and outside the cups of her bra, but added the evidence was inconclusive.
“You now know what it is like to make difficult decisions juries have to make in cases of this kind" - Judge Jeremy Carey
Forensic scientist Suzanne Winter agreed it was fair to say that when dealing with such a complex mixed profile the jury should exercise caution when assessing the evidence.
Asked if he could help about his DNA being on the woman’s clothing, Gorniak said: “It must have been because I was helping her at the time.”
He added: “I am certain nothing happened that night.”
Judge Carey praised the police for the thorough investigation of the case while “under enormous pressure at the moment because of reducing budgets to do their job”.
He told jurors: “I suspect this is something you will never forget.”