Stoke & Staffordshire

Keele student Hannah Stubbs rape case: Man cleared

Hannah Stubbs Image copyright Amanda Patricia Stubbs
Image caption Hannah Stubbs was studying at Keele University in Staffordshire

A man has been acquitted of raping a student who killed herself while detectives investigated the case.

Elgan Varney, 33, was accused of raping Hannah Stubbs, who was a student at Keele University, in Staffordshire.

The 22-year-old killed herself at her Stafford home in August 2015.

Judge John Fletcher cleared Mr Varney, formerly of Newcastle-under-Lyme, of two counts of rape and one of sexual assault after the CPS offered no evidence against him.

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During the hearing at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, prosecutor Karim Khalil QC said the decision not to continue the prosecution had been taken at the "highest level" of the CPS.

The CPS said the case had been kept under regular review and prosecutors were no longer satisfied there was a realistic prospect of conviction.

Defence counsel Ann Cotcher QC told the court Mr Varney had been "removed from his attempts at education" at Keele because of the proceedings against him.

"This is an allegation that goes back to 2014," Ms Cotcher told the brief hearing.

"The defendant was interviewed, as was the complainant, in March 2015, almost exactly two years ago."

'No celebration'

Following the hearing, Mr Varney offered his condolences to the family of Ms Stubbs.

In a statement read out by his solicitor, Hollie Alcock, Mr Varney said: "This is not a time of celebration for me - quite simply, I should never have been charged and put through this horrendous ordeal."

He also called for a change in the law to provide anonymity to those charged with but not convicted of sexual offences.

In a statement, Ms Stubbs' parents, Paul and Mandy Stubbs, said: "We don't want what happened to Hannah to define her life or our memory of the kind and loving person that she was."

An inquest recorded a narrative verdict that she had taken her own life following post-traumatic stress.

A spokesman for the university said: "Based on today's outcome, we will be in conversation with Mr Varney over the coming weeks.

"As is standard practice, any such discussion will be confidential between the university and the student."

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