A 21-YEAR-old man has been acquitted of the rape of a woman.

A jury at Winchester Crown Court returned not guilty verdicts to three charges that Ilie Cimpoesu, of Walled Meadow, Andover, had sex with the woman without her consent.

Mr Cimpoesu faced two counts of rape and another of assault by penetration, but the jury found him not guilty on Thursday last week.

He admitted to touching her in an “intimate place”, but he said the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, consented.

The trial last week was told Mr Cimpoesu had exchanged words with the woman at The Rockhouse, in London Street on Saturday, October 27.

Tim Moors, prosecuting, said Mr Cimpoesu had been watching the woman throughout the night talking to men, adding: “You were watching her as she was getting ready to leave you saw her leave and you followed her.”

But Mr Cimpoesu and Peter Binder, defending, said the pair had in fact left the venue separately and the woman had called the defendant over to ask for a cigarette and asked him to go with her.

The Romanian national said that the pair talked and kissed as they walked along London Road before he turned to head home.

He said: “She called me back, she said ‘come’, I headed back I took her arm and kissed her, I wanted to take her in my arms, I lost my footing and I fell.”

Mr Cimpoesu said that as he had the woman in his arms he touched her in an intimate area before they fell into bushes along the side of the road.

The woman’s DNA was found on Mr Cimpoesu’s genitals, but he said he had touched his penis as he slept that night and experts confirmed this method of transfer would have been possible.

The police were called on the night of the incident by passer-by Simon Hall, who had spotted the pair earlier “holding each other”, and returned to the scene in London Road as he felt unsure about the situation.

He said Mr Cimpoesu walked out of the bushes and a woman came out “adjusting herself”, but Mr Cimposesu said he had left the scene quickly because he thought Mr Hall may have been the woman’s partner and he did not want to be beaten up.