Newport bank analyst cleared of child rape charges
Updated 5:02pm Wednesday 19th March 2014 in News
A NEWPORT banking analyst accused of raping a girl under 13 was cleared of all charges against him today.
Lloyds employee Caleb Laughlin, 21, denied two counts of rape and a further count of sexual assault against the same girl.
Mr Laughlin, of St Julian's Avenue, Newport, maintained his innocence during a trial at Cardiff Crown Court saying the allegations were a "complete fabrication".
A jury of four women and eight men took an hour to find him not guilty on all counts.
Mr Laughlin and his relatives hugged after the verdict was read out.
His family issued a statement after Mr Laughlin was cleared
It said: "We are delighted with the jury's swift and unanimous verdict of not guilty. Justice has been done. We can finally get on with our family life again."
During the three-day trial, the jury was told that the girl had written a letter stating that she could not be "completely certain" the alleged abuse had taken place.
The jury also heard that she had previously made sex abuse allegations against another person but later retracted them.
Judge Ian Murphy, QC, had directed the jurors to consider the girl's evidence with caution.
Defence barrister, Heath Edwards, told the court that his client was an honest, reliable young man.
The court heard that Mr Laughlin had no previous convictions, warnings or reprimands and had been involved with church activities.
On the last day of the trial, Judge Murphy ordered the jury to find Mr Laughlin not guilty of one of the rape charges and a lesser charge of sexual assault was introduced instead.
Mr Laughlin pleaded not guilty to the alternative charge and was cleared of all four charges.