A RUNCORN soldier has been cleared of rape.

It took a jury a little over an hour to find 21-year-old Jason Holmes not guilty on two counts of rape and sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman.

They returned their verdict at Chester Crown Court on Friday, after a three day trial.

Judge Nicholas Woodward told him he was free to leave the court with his record unblemished.

Holmes, of Lockgate East, Windmill Hill, had strenously denied the allegations.

He had admitted having sex with the alleged victim but claimed it had been fully consensual.

The royal engineer was arrested in a car park in Cairo Street in Warrington, in the early hours of Christmas Eve last year.

The jury had been shown CCTV footage of the couple kissing in a dark alleyway after leaving Showbar nighclub at around 3.30am.

The video then captured Holmes walking away alone. The woman was seen lying at the side of the road.

Holmes is then seen returning with friends they had both been drinking with.

The woman was taken to Warrington Hospital by ambulance for treatment. She cannot be named for legal reasons.

Simon Parry, prosecuting, said the trial was all about whether there was consent.

The alleged victim denied she had made up the allegations because she was embarrassed by injuries she had received through consensual sex.

Holmes is due to serve in Afghanistan this week.

His commander, Captain Catherine Coward, told the court she would have no hesitation taking him if he was cleared.