"Birmingham hero soldier wrongly accused of rape spent seven months behind bars"

A HERO soldier wrongly accused of rape has told of his ordeal to clear his name – after spending seven months behind bars on remand.

Private Sean Spooner, who serves with 2 Mercian regiment, has called for the legal system to be changed after he was charged with raping an 18-year-old he met through Facebook and forced to wait for his trial in prison.

The 21-year-old soldier, of Lakey Lane, Yardley Wood, was cleared by a jury at Warwick Crown Court in just one hour and six minutes.

Yet he said he had been remanded in custody for seven months.

He even spent his 21st birthday behind bars and said he was placed on a sex offenders’ wing.

Sean said he was told he could not be bailed because he lived less than ten miles away from his accuser.

During the trial the jury had heard that while serving in Afghanistan, Private Spooner had saved the life of Captain Guy Disney, one of Prince Harry’s ‘Arctic Heroes’, after a rocket-propelled grenade hit their vehicle, killing another soldier, in a Taliban attack in 2009.

Capt Disney was among the group of injured servicemen whose expedition to the North Pole was featured in the recent TV programme.

Sean is due to return to job with the army next week and will join his base in Belfast before heading back to Afghanistan.

Speaking of his ordeal to clear his name he said: “I could have lost everything.

“It has been dreadful. I have lost loads of weight because I couldn’t eat. I was placed in a sex offenders’ wing in prison.

“I was eventually moved after I asked, but then I had to lie about why I was in prison because I was worried the other prisoners attacked sex offenders.

“It has also been awful for my family. My mum has been having panic attacks and I have a young sister and younger brother who know I have been in prison accused of rape.”

Sean said he met the 18-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, after they became friends on Facebook.

He insisted during police interviews and throughout the trial that they had sex at her home which was entirely consensual. In fact, Sean said the couple had met purely to have sex. He said: “We first met when I was on leave in 2009 after becoming friends on Facebook. I did not know her before that. We went for a drink in Solihull and had sex in the toilets of a bar within an hour. We were kicked out of the pub.

“I got in touch again in February and she invited me round to her house.

“At no stage have I ever forced myself on a woman. It’s the worse thing to ever be accused of.

“I have no idea why she said I had raped her. I think it was one of those things that she started and had to continue with. My barrister described it as like being a snowball going down hill.

“I personally think that she felt guilty about having sex with me because she had a boyfriend. I just want the truth to come out. I never felt so scared in my life as when the jury gave the verdict. I think the system has to change. They refused to give me bail because I live less than ten miles away from her.”

Sean’s mum Tracey Bowman said: “We have had a terrible time as a family, but Sean can now get back to work and can get on with his life. She cannot be named, but everybody knows about Sean and that is not right. It has to change.

“She will now have to live with what she did.”

Before Sean returns, his family and friends will be holding a belated 21st birthday party after he spent his official birthday in May in prison.

http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2011/09/12/birmingham-hero-soldier-wrongly-accused-of-rape-spent-seven-months-behind-bars-97319-29404455/

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