A JURY at Burnley Crown Court took just 15 minutes to find a Colne soldier not guilty of raping a young woman in February.
Shaun Aspin, of Portland Street, Colne, who was injured when he was blown up in Afghanistan while fighting for his country, had pleaded not guilty to rape and was cleared on Monday after a five-day trial at Burnley Crown Court.
The defendant (24), of Portland Street, Colne, wiped away tears in the dock after the jury returned its verdict. Afterwards, he spoke of the “nightmare” eight months with the case hanging over him since he was arrested and charged over the allegation.
The court had heard claims Kingsman Aspin, who serves in the 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, had forced the woman to give him oral sex in the bathroom of a house in Colne. The woman, who told police he had hit her, said she had locked herself in the bathroom and called the police.
Aspin, who had been drinking in a Colne pub earlier in the evening, had told the jury he had thought he and the woman were going to have sex at the house. He said she pulled him upstairs and performed the sex act on him voluntarily. Asked by his barrister, Miss Kathryn Johnson: “Did you rape her?”, he replied: “No I didn’t.”
Kingsman Aspin was injured in 2010 and had been flown back to Britain from Afghanistan after three weeks serving in Helmand Province. He had been injured while on foot patrol after he and his sergeant were hit by an improvised explosive device. Aspin told the jury his sergeant had lost his legs.
After arriving back in the UK, Aspin had been taken to the critical care unit at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, for treatment to neck fractures and severe shrapnel wounds. Kingsman Aspin had been taken to the Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre, Surrey, after surgery.
Giving evidence during the trial, Aspin, who has been in the Army four years and is based at Catterick, told the jury he had been left with flashbacks and nightmares after the incident.
After the verdict, Kingsman Aspin hugged his family, girlfriend Michaela Barraclough and friends who supported him throughout the hearing and said: “I’m relieved it’s all over.”
He told of his shock at being accused of rape and said he was looking forward to spending time with his family. Born and brought up in the Colne area, he has been banned from Burnley and Pendle during the last eight months because of bail conditions and has been living in camp. He said he was now hoping to have some time on leave before going back to work.
Kingsman Aspin said he felt like he had “the whole world on my shoulders” during the hearing. He said: ”I won’t ever be able to put this behind me.”
After the trial was over, Aspin admitted two counts of possessing ammunition without a firearms certificate on February 17th and was fined £400, with a £15 victim surcharge.
Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Gibson said the ammunition belonged to the Army, Aspin had plainly been using them training and failed to hand them in at the end of training. He continued: “I accept you took it home on the basis you were forgetful and I accept there was no sinister purpose behind it.”
In Friday’s Colne Times, read more about this shocking case and how it has impacted upon his family.