Man acquitted of raping and falsely imprisoning woman

Lisa Bastiani will have to wait until December next year for her trial at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Michael Halford was acquitted at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A Suffolk man has been found not guilty of raping a woman at knifepoint and keeping her prisoner for over five hours. 

During a trial at Ipswich Crown Court, Michael Halford, 33, of no fixed address, said he had engaged in consensual sex with the woman, who he had met on a dating app. 

He said that after having sex, they had gone outside for a cigarette and at no time had he locked her in the house and raped her at knifepoint.

Halford accepted he and the woman had argued about money but claimed that everything had been fine between them when they went to sleep that night.

He said the next morning the woman had been in a bad mood because she was worried about money and had gone to a neighbour’s house.

Halford, who was living in Haverhill, denied raping the woman, false imprisoning her and assaulting her causing her actual bodily harm.

On Wednesday, the jury took just one hour and 51 minutes to return not guilty verdicts on all counts. 

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Judge Martyn Levett told Halford, who showed visible relief at the verdicts, he may leave the dock and thanked jurors for their service. 

During the trial, it was alleged by the prosecution that Halford had become upset when the woman didn’t want to have sex with him.

He’d then allegedly asked for cash to buy cocaine but she had refused and he’d then allegedly walked into the bedroom holding a knife and held it close to her face.

During the next few hours, Halford allegedly manhandled the woman, causing bruises on her arm, thigh and chest and a small cut on her ear.

It was also alleged that the woman had also discovered that all the doors to the house were locked and that Halford had the keys in his pocket.

At one stage he was alleged to have ordered her to take off her clothes while threatening her with the knife and had sex with her.  

They had fallen asleep at 4am and when the woman woke up at 7am, she said she saw a key in the kitchen door and ran for help to a neighbour’s house.