Council boss cleared of sex charge

A council chief executive was cleared today of raping a female colleague he met when she was drunk in a bar.

Byron Davies, 52, who ran Conwy County Council in north Wales, took the married 26-year-old to his flat where they had sex.

The jury at Mold Crown Court found him not guilty of raping the colleague, who claimed she had no recollection of what happened and was too drunk to consent to sex.

Mr Davies, a divorced father of two daughters from Yelverton, Devon, nodded in acknowledgement as the jury of seven women and five men returned their unanimous verdict following an hour and 15 minutes of deliberations.

Judge Niclas Parry told him he could leave the dock, saying: "Mr Davies, you came into this court a respected man of good character and you leave with that good character intact."

The local authority chief executive has been suspended from his job since last March when police launched the rape investigation.

The trial, which began on Monday, heard he met the woman in the bar at the Castle Hotel in Conwy on March 23 last year.

She was drunk after spending the evening with a friend and approached the defendant, who was sitting alone, and asked if he was Byron Davies because she believed she recognised him.

Although they both worked for Conwy Council, they did not know each other.

They fell into conversation, the court heard, and he bought her another of the strong beers she had been drinking that evening.

"Her recollection became somewhat blurred after that drink," prosecutor John Philpotts said.

The woman told the jury she remembered leaving the pub in the defendant's car and arriving at his flat in nearby Deganwy.

She said she had a vague memory of Mr Davies "coming on to her", touching her and kissing her on the lips, but she pushed him away.

The next thing she remembered was being woken up by him tapping her on the shoulder and telling her that it was morning.

He also suggested that they should have another "quick one" before going to work, the court heard.

The woman left the flat telling Mr Davies he had "the wrong idea about her".

Davies was arrested at his flat just after midnight on March 25 and in interview he denied rape. Davies told the jury he was flattered by the attention of an "attractive and flirtatious" woman half his age.

He said the woman asked him more than once whether he had a room at the Castle Hotel before he said she willingly accompanied him to his home. But he also felt she was "pushy" and had "targeted" him that night.

He said he was "anxious and nervous" when he took her back to his flat and at one stage took a tablet to help with his sexual performance.

Speaking outside court, Mr Davies, who believed the victim was not as drunk as she later claimed to be, said the investigation had left him "devastated" and "angry".

He had stinging criticism of the conduct of the investigation by North Wales Police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mr Davies said: "Obviously I am absolutely delighted and thrilled with the decision that has been reached today.

"For anybody that knows me that decision was never in question.

"I am very angry about the case that has been brought against me.

"The woman concerned clearly was lying but I do have an element of sympathy for her and she may require some kind of psychiatric help in the future."

Mr Davies said he had a grievance against the Crown Prosecution Service and North Wales Police for their conduct during the case.

He said a toxicology report had the wrong labelling, CCTV had the wrong timing and described it as "lazy policing".

He also said he would take further action, through his solicitors, over actions of senior police officers in relation to the investigation, describing it as "most disappointing".

Mr Davies thanked his legal team and "people in Conwy who have supported me through this period".

"Most of all I would like to thank my family, in particular my uncle in Swansea and my two children for the love and support they have shown to me throughout this horrendous period," he added.

Asked how the events had taken their toll, he said: "It has been devastating. Having said that, when you're down in life you're certainly not out and I am looking forward to the future."

In a statement following the verdict, Conwy County Council said Mr Davies remains suspended from his job until the outcome of a disciplinary investigation.

A spokeswoman said: "Following his arrest at the end of March, the council started a disciplinary investigation into matters relating to the arrest.

"Such disciplinary investigations against chief executives are undertaken by someone independent of the council.

"The council and Mr Davies's representative agreed that John Bowers QC should be appointed to carry out that investigation, which continues.

"The council will be seeking to bring matters to a conclusion as soon as possible."