Identity change for student cleared of rape

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The Independent Online

A student cleared of raping a solicitor who claimed she was too drunk to consent to sex, said today that he still felt he had been "punished" despite being acquitted.

Peter Bacon, 26, said the stigma of being accused of rape has led him to change his identity in the hope that he can start afresh.

He was charged with raping a woman following a night of heavy drinking in February last year.

Although it took jurors just 45 minutes to return a unanimous not-guilty verdict following a trial at Winchester Crown Court last March, he plans to leave his home in Canterbury, Kent, to move to the other side of the world so he can start a new life.

In an interview with Victoria Derbyshire on Radio 5 Live he told listeners that he changed his name by deed poll before graduating from Canterbury University in June so that his new, undisclosed name would be seen on his degree certificate.

"If I didn't do it before graduating then I couldn't do it because I wouldn't be able to use my degree certificate without having to explain why I changed my name," he said.

He added that he missed his graduation ceremony to avoid "a whole load of awkward questions" and was disappointed with the 2:2 he gained in sociology. "I would have liked to have gone one higher," he said.

He added: "I've change my passport, I've changed my taxes, my national insurance, my NHS records, everything basically.

"I've done the Hotmail and Facebook. I've not put anyone on my Facebook yet because I don't really want anyone on my new Facebook to know me under my old name, if that makes sense.

"It is strange seeing a new name I suppose, but I've had a few months now to get used to it."

He added: "I still haven't got used to it in a social sense yet because none of my friends ever calls me by my new name."

During the trial it was claimed the woman was so drunk she was incapable of giving consent to the sex and he took advantage.

But Mr Bacon told the court that the woman, in her 40s, had given him the "come-on" and had consented and taken part in the encounter.

Mr Bacon said despite being acquitted, having his name connected to the incident was "nightmarish."

"It doesn't matter, really, what the outcome was, it's the fact that you've been connected to it," he added.

Asked if he felt like an innocent man, the softly-spoken graduate said: "Yeah, but punished all the same.

"It just seems to be that a load of doors are closed to me because of this, even though I've done nothing wrong."