A 31-YEAR-OLD man will spend the festive season with his family after he was acquitted yesterday.
The man appeared on a rape charge before High Court judge Justice Janaka Bandara who overturned the guilty opinions of the three trial assessors and found him not guilty of the charge.
The man, who was accused of raping his 16-year-old niece, was all smiles as he walked out of a half-packed courtroom with his Legal Aid Commission lawyer Lavenia Raisua.
"This is my first case in the High Court and we're both so happy about the outcome of this case," Ms Raisua said.
"My client is now a free man and the case is in our favour".
In delivering his judgment, Justice Bandara said he accepted the version of the defence and rejected the prosecution's case.
Justice Bandara said the complainant could have notified her parents or the villagers on the night of the said incident, as she had stated while giving evidence that if she had shouted, people would have heard her, but she refused.
The matter only came to light after the complainant's teacher suspected her to be pregnant.
"This case is surrounded by social and cultural factors," Ms Raisua said.
"In this case, they were in a relationship for two years and were keeping it a secret because they were related.
"So after the judge assessed the evidence he accepted our version of the story".
The facts of the case were that at 9pm on August 30, 2011, the accused had sexual intercourse with the complainant at the back of the village kindergarten teacher's home.
In his caution interview the man said he had sex with the complainant after courting for two years and the first sexual encounter was behind the village community hall while the second behind the kindergarten teacher's home.