Father of university graduate falsely accused of rape says his son 'lost 18 months of his life' after court finds drunken accuser made it up

Camilla Turner
Lewis Tappenden, 24, of Huntington, Cambs., arriving at York Crown Court for the start of his trial - © SWNS.com

The father of a university graduate who was falsely accused of rape said that his son "lost 18 months of his life", after a jury found that his drunken accuser had made up her claims. 

Lewis Tappenden, 24, a recent graduate from York St John University was found not guilty of raping an 18-year-old student after an alcohol-fuelled night out. The court heard how the 24-year-old said he had been left feeling “suicidal” after the allegations.

Outside court his father Rob Tappenden, 51, said: “We are not happy, it's not a celebration, it's not a victory.

“We have not won anything. We have lost 18 months of our lives really. “I never doubted Lewis, but we've had this cloud over us.”

He said that he has two daughters of a similar age to the accuser and so understands that the police have to take such allegations seriously.  “I look at it from that side then these things have to be followed through," he said. 

Lewis Tappenden, 24, of Huntington, Cambs., arriving at York Crown Court for the start of his trial - Credit:  Benjamin Paul / SWNS.com

Tappenden had graduated from English Literature and creative writing in the summer of 2015, and  was working in a bar in York when he was “pulled” by the 18-year-old first year student who invited him back to her student accommodation for sex.

But the York St John University first year student changed her mind halfway through and accused him of rape. A jury took less than two hours to clear Tappenden - who broke down in tears at the not guilty verdicts - after a five day trial at York Crown Court.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC had told the jury: “The defence say that everything that took place on that bed was consensual then for some reasons she has fled the room and fabricated the allegation of rape and fabricated the injuries. If that is right your verdict should be not guilty.”

 York Crown Court heard that the 18 year old was just two weeks into the first year of her course at York St John University when she went out for yet another drunken night out with friends.

She was gong out to pull someone and bring them back. It sounds bad, but that is what you do.

Flatmate of accuser

Before she met Tappenden, at the Drawing Board nightclub in York city centre, the early hours of October 2, 2015, she had been drinking for six hours.

In that time she had downed six bottles of Blue WKD, three Sour shots, two vodka Red Bulls and had been drinking cider in the club, the court heard. 

A friend told the York Crown Court rape trial jury that the complainant had been upset because she wanted a relationship with a male friend back home, but he was not interested.

“So she was gong out to pull someone and bring them back,” said her flatmate. “It sounds bad, but that is what you do.”

Tappenden had been working as a barman in the Royal York Hotel that evening and had headed out for drinks with his girlfriend after his shift.

After walking his girlfriend home he continued drinking with friends at the Stone Roses bar.

By the time he bumped into the complainant he had drunk three pints of Carlsberg, three triple vodka and cokes, and was sipping a single vodka and coke when she started kissing him and asked him back to her flat.

CCTV showed her leading him out of the club by the hand and further footage on their route to her accommodations captured them hand in hand, kissing and smiling.

Once inside her bedroom she undressed herself and he undressed himself, and they began to have sex.

She told the court that she was "okay with it at first" but said that she began to sober up and "something clicked". She said she "froze" and tried to "tune out".

Lewis Tappenden, 24, of Huntington, Cambs., leaves York Crown Court during his trial - Credit:  Benjamin Paul / SWNS.com

 When Tappenden went to the toilet to be sick she fled the room and woke her flatmates.

She had love bites to her neck and cheek and reddening to her chest area. Security marched a drunken  Tappenden out of the accommodation block. He left his socks and boxer shorts in her bedroom. Later that day her father picked her up and took her home.

She told her mother what had happened and the police became involved. She returned on the Monday to clear her room and dropped out of the university course.

Tappenden was described in court by a friend as "a gentle, thoughtful, reserved person, who never hurt anyone physically or emotionally."

Tappenden, who was of previous good character, said the allegations had left him feeling suicidal and “feels as if life's been ruined.”

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