A former Kent and England Lions cricketer has told of ‘a two-year nightmare’ after being cleared of groping a barmaid in a Maidstone pub.
Matt Coles was accused of grabbing the woman's breasts after she stumbled while serving drinks.
But a jury at Maidstone Crown Court took just an hour to clear him of sexual assault.
After the ruling he told KentOnline: "It has been a nightmare which has gone on for more than two years.
"I am just so relieved the jury believed me because all I did was go to help her after she stumbled."
The professional cricketer had been drinking at the pub in August 2021.
Ian Foinette, prosecuting, said the barmaid, who Mr Coles had never met or spoken to before, was carrying a tray and stumbled to the ground.
It was then that the 33-year-old, who had always denied sexual assault, moved towards her as she nursed her ankle injury to help her to her feet.
The woman denied she had misinterpreted Cole's kind actions to help her.
She claimed she pushed his hands away after saying: 'Get off me'.
But Mr Coles said nothing was said to him about the incident and he even stayed there for another hour before travelling to Skegness with his father.
The incident was caught on the pub's cameras and during the trial the jury left their seats in the jury box to look closely at the two TV monitors.
Mr Coles, of London Road, Maidstone, later went to the police station where he was arrested and questioned.
He told the jury: "I heard glasses clatter and a woman shout: ‘Aaagh’ which I presumed was the waitress falling.
"When I turned around I saw someone in pain and acted on impulse. From memory, she couldn't push herself up and needed assistance to stand up.
"I just wanted to help and it is ridiculous to suggest I was groping her. I was trying to lift her. I put my hands under her arms and I had no intention of touching her breasts. I didn't squeeze them."
Mr Coles said after the verdict: "This has been hanging over me for more than two years and cast a shadow over my career. I just want to get back to playing the game."
He is an all-rounder who played for Kent, Essex and Hampshire cricket clubs.
During the 2012 season he took 59 first-class wickets and earned a call up to the England Lions squad.
"I am grateful for the people who have stuck by me for the two years and my other half...”
He took two wickets on his Lions' debut in May 2012 and was included on the Lions' tour of Australia a year later.
Commenting on the outcome, he added: "I am grateful for the people who have stuck by me for the two years and my other half.
"I am grateful that 12 of my peers have all agreed the verdict was the right verdict."