A Penryn soldier acquitted of rape has spoken out about his ordeal and the 18 month struggle to clear his name.
Richard Parton, who serves in the Royal Engineers, was so devastated by the spurious charge that he even considered suicide at one point.
The 28-year-old was alleged to have raped a woman after a night out in Falmouth on August 5, 2011.
A jury at Truro Crown Court unanimously found him not guilty on February 18 this year.
He said: “I only got cleared about two weeks ago. When you see a man’s been charged with rape, it’s the way people read that – it’s the witch hunt society we live in.
“It’s a pretty devastating effect. I have had suicidal thoughts and things like it.”
Alongside the love of family and friends Richard also found support on an online message board where people who have been through similar torment come together to share their thoughts and advice.
“They were the people who kind of gave me the strength to fight it properly and fight it in court,” he said.
“Everybody who knows me knows that’s not the kind of thing I would ever do.”
Within the first day of being in court, Richard said, “it was fairly obvious” that the allegations against him were “just a malicious thing.”
Still, he described the experience as “like staring down the barrel of a gun.”
The important thing, he said, is that “I have cleared my name legally – It’s nice to just have it out there in the local newspaper as well.”
“The only other thing that my brother and I appeared in the Packet for was serving in Afghanistan – to go from that to having some like this against my name...
“It has had a positive effect on me. It’s one of those things that makes you realise what’s really important and how you can help others.
“I will never go back to being exactly the same person as I was before, but now I have come down the other side of it I’m using it as a positive and moving forward.”