A CHESTER man has been found not guilty of the rape of a woman in the city centre.

Connor Brown, 25, of Queen Street, had stood accused on one charge of rape, in relation to an incident in a small car park past an alleyway just off Northgate Street in the early hours of September 5, 2018.

The jury of eight men and three women at Chester Crown Court took just over an hour on Friday, January 10 to deliver their unanimous verdict of not guilty.

A 12th juror had previously been discharged from the jury on Wednesday following potential 'jury irregularity' in relation to possible juror misconduct.

The trial, which lasted five days, had heard Mr Brown, a University of Chester masters student, had been on a night out in Chester, starting at the Bull & Stirrup pub before moving to Rosies nightclub.

It was after he left the club just before 4am that he first saw the woman – now 24, but who cannot be named – sitting on steps outside Storyhouse.

She had also been to Rosies that night, having come to Chester via taxi, and could not find her friend after they had separated in Rosies.

After declining the offer of a lift from a taxi driver who had pulled up their vehicle beside her, she agreed to go with Mr Brown to help find her friend.

It was accepted by both prosecution and defence during the trial the pair walked up Northgate Street – with CCTV footage played to the court showing their movements – into an alleyway opposite King Street that led to a small car park.

It was accepted that kissing then took place between the two in the small car park, which was consensual, and sexual activity took place.

The prosecution had contended the sex was not consensual, while the defence said it was.

Afterwards, Mr Brown and the woman returned to Northgate Street, when the woman became distressed, saying she needed to find her friend.

Work colleagues of Mr Brown arrived at the scene by chance and police were called to attend to the distressed woman, with Mr Brown and his work colleagues leaving the scene just before police arrived.

The court had heard Mr Brown had no previous convictions and was of good character, with character references submitted in support of him from family members and a family friend.

After the unanimous verdict of not guilty was read out, Mr Brown broke down in the dock and wept, before being released and being reunited with supporters in the public gallery.