Father of university graduate cleared of rape hits out at investigation, saying 'certain questions' should have been asked 18 months ago

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 has hit out at the investigation into his son’s case, suggesting that prosecutors failed to ask basic questions.

Lewis Tappenden, 24, a recent graduate from York St John University was cleared on Tuesday of raping an 18-year-old student after an alcohol-fuelled night out in the city centre.

Outside court his father Rob Tappenden, 51, said that his son could have been saved from an ordeal that left him feeling suicidal "if certain questions had been asked 18 months ago".

A jury at York Crown Court took less than two hours to clear Tappenden, who broke down in tears as the jury read out their verdict.

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

Outside court his father Rob Tappenden, 51, said the verdict was "not a celebration", adding that his son had been living under a "cloud of uncertainty" ever since his arrest.

He said: “Since Lewis was first arrested it has been a strain for the whole family. If certain questions had been asked 18 months ago we would not be here now.

“I have two daughters the same age as the girl so I understand these things have to be thoroughly investigated. But we never doubted Lewis for a moment."

“Lewis is in a state, he is in tears. We just want to get back to normal now. WWe are not happy. This is not a victory. It’s not a celebration.”

Tappenden, who had graduated from English Literature and creative writing,

was on a night out in York city centre when he was “pulled” by an 18-year-old student who invited him back to her student accommodation for sex.

But the York St John University first year student told the jury that she had changed her mind halfway through, later accusing him of rape.

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

Flatmate of accuser

Tappenden had told the jury during the five day trial: “She never said no. If she had I would not have done anything. I’m not a violent person in any scenario. I understand what consent is. I feel my life has been ruined. I thought about killing myself because of the shame of coming here.”

The 18-year-old accuser was just two weeks into the first year of her course when she went out on a drunken night out with friends.

Before she met Tappenden, at the Drawing Board nightclub in the early hours of October 2, 2015, she had been downed six bottles of Blue WKD, three Sour shots, two vodka Red Bulls, the court heard.

A friend told the York Crown Court rape trial jury that the complainant had been upset because a relationship had not worked out. “So she was going out to pull someone and bring them back,” said her flatmate. “It sounds bad, but that is what you do.”

Tappenden had gone out for drinks with his girlfriend, and after walking her 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.

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

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, 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". 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 Tappenden out of the accommodation block.

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."

Speaking at the end of the five day trial, Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said: “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.”

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