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Woman wins £80,000 damages from man cleared of raping her

Stephen Coxen was sued following the incident in St Andrews, Fife, on September 2013.

A woman has won £80,000 in damages from a man who was cleared of raping her.

Stephen Coxen was successfully sued following the incident in St Andrews, Fife, on September 2013.

He admitted he had been "rude" towards the woman on the night in question and that their time together became upsetting.

Coxen was visiting his friend Dominic Hurst in St Andrews and went out with friends to the Lizard Lounge.

He said he was in the smoking area of the club when the alleged victim tapped him on the shoulder and began kissing him.

Sheriff Robert Weir said the evidence from the woman, who is now 23, had been "cogent, compelling and persuasive".

The court ruling said: "In the early hours of Saturday September 14, 2013, accordingly, the defender took advantage of the pursuer when she was in an intoxicated state by reason of the amount of alcohol she had consumed, resulting in a lack of capacity to make free agreement, that he continued to do so even after she manifested distress and a measure of physical resistance, and that he raped her."

The case is thought to be the first of its kind in Scotland - and campaigners say many other rape victims are considering civil action as they feel let down by the criminal system

The 23-year-old said he was "really shocked" in 2014 when he initially found out the claim was being made against him.

Coxen denied the charges and in November 2015 a jury found the case against him not proven, a verdict of acquittal.

His alleged victim, known as the pursuer in the case as she cannot be named for legal reasons, brought a landmark civil action to the Personal Injury Court in Edinburgh.

Sandy Brindley, chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: "This is a landmark judgement, and testament to Ms M's courage and tenacity in seeking justice. While this is a victory for her, she should not have had to go through the ordeal of two trials to search for some form of justice.

"We are aware Ms M feels let down by the criminal justice system.

"This is a feeling echoed by many, many rape survivors we are working with.

"Unless there are radical improvements to how the Scottish criminal justice system responds to rape, we anticipate seeing more and more women turning to the civil system in a desperate search for justice."

Last year, Denise Clair won a civil rape action against footballers David Goodwillie and David Robertson.

Unlike Coxen, they didn't face a criminal trial, but a judge in the civil court found the rapes had happened and awarded Ms Clair £100,000 in damages.

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