FARLEYS Solicitors LLP’s Special Casework department was celebrating on Friday after successfully defending a high profile client on sex assault charges.
David Atherton, one of the country’s first ‘dot.com’ millionaires, has been found not guilty on all charges including attempted rape, making a threat to kill and false imprisonment.
In a case that has been followed closely by both local and national press, Mr. Atherton was accused of sexually assaulting the complainant before allegedly threatening to drown her in the pool in his mansion. In a twist to the case, the incident at the centre of the matter was captured on the state of the art CCTV system installed in the property.
The court heard how the images on the system were part of an elaborate role play, and of the complainants ‘exotic’ sexual history. The court also heard how the complainant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was accused of setting the defendant up, and was told the case was a ‘sham’. A claim that was bolstered when the court was told that Mr. Atherton was indirectly approached through a ‘third party’.
Giving evidence, Mr. Atherton said,
“She has not directly asked me for money after this. She has indirectly asked me for money.”
The case, at Leeds Crown Court, took over 2 weeks to be heard, yet the jury only took an hour to come to the unanimous verdict of ‘not guilty’ on all 5 counts.
Paul Schofield, partner in Farleys Solicitors LLP Special Casework department, said,
“It is of great concern that the Police failed to investigate Mr Atherton’s assertions about the complainant properly, or at all. Had they done so, then perhaps a great deal of public money would not have been wasted, and Mr Atherton would not have had to endure many months waiting for, and then undergoing, this trial.
While the result does go a long way to restoring Mr Atherton’s earlier impeccable reputation, it is his firm intention to take legal action against those who have wronged him.”
Mr. Atherton, who started his working life as a shelf stacker in Tesco, made his fortune building up pioneering online retailer dabs.com from scratch, before selling the business to BT in 2006.
Mr. Atherton, said of the result,
“I am grateful that after eight months of hell, I have been vindicated, and in addition, I will always be grateful to my family and close friends who have supported me throughout this ordeal.”
Farleys Solicitors has a team of criminal law defence solicitors who specialise in serious crimes such as sexual assault and commercial fraud. For more information phone 0845 287 0939 or you can e-mail us.