In the Media

Earl's son cleared of raping teenage girl

PUBLISHED January 16, 2012

James Murray, son of the Earl of Mansfield, told jury he had consensual sexual relationship with 16-year-old

An aristocrat has been cleared of raping a 16-year-old girl.

The Hon James Murray, 42, the son of the Earl of Mansfield, said he had a consensual sexual relationship with the girl, who is now 17.

A jury at Oxford crown court, who heard prosecution claims that the Old Etonian raped the girl in June 2010 after getting her drunk on vodka, took just under an hour on Monday to clear him.

Murray told the jury of seven men and five women that he had had sexual relations with the teenager at his flat in Oxford over several days in June 2010, but had "deep feelings of unease" about the situation.

Murray said the alleged victim was a foster child and had "installed herself" in the flat, after becoming friends and helping Murray identify people who had stolen bicycles from his block.

The court heard that the girl was one of a group of teenage friends who used to visit Murray's home to drink, smoke, play on his laptop and listen to music.

Murray acknowledged that he was like a "taxi service", ferrying the girl and her friends around.

The crown said the IT specialist raped the teenager on 26 June 2010 after watching a film at his flat.

It was claimed that she woke up that morning with him naked next to her. Murray told the court that the first sexual encounter happened when the girl was staying in his spare room. "I felt she was expecting me to initiate sex with her so I did," he said. "She said: 'OK, I can do that'."

Asked if she was enthusiastic, he said: "No, not really. But ? she did say: 'Don't expect anything'."

He said a condom he used on the night of the alleged rape had broken and the next morning he suggested the girl take a morning-after pill. He said the girl's friends arrived and the mood became "aggressive and confrontational" and they asked if he had "done something" to her.

The group left and Murray was not allowed to speak to the girl, but he phoned and texted her that afternoon, apologising 21 times.

In court he said he did not know what he was apologising for.

The jury heard there were three condoms in a rubbish bin at the flat, at different layers of it.

The defence argued that that fundamentally undermined the prosecution case, but the prosecution said it was not inconsistent with its case.

Murray's solicitor, Michael Geeson, read a statement on behalf of the aristocrat, which said: "He would like to thank the jury for their consideration of the evidence, and their verdict today.

"He says this has been the most difficult 18 months for himself, but more particularly for his family, who had to endure the brunt of the uncertainty, detail of the allegations and the obvious interest in the case.

"If it is possible, he would wish to move forward with his life and to put this difficult time behind him." © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds