TWO Carlisle men who were accused of each raping a schoolgirl have now been cleared of all the charges they faced.

At the city's crown court in the last few minutes, the jury announced not guilty verdicts on James Andrew Nelson, 35, and 37-year-old Arran William Toal, who both consistently denied that there was any sexual contact with the girls, aged 13 and 14 at the time.

The jury delivered its not guilty verdicts on the rape allegations yesterday afternoon.

This morning, after considering the evidence for eight hours and eight minutes, the jury forewoman announced not guilty verdicts on the second alternative charge that each man had faced, of engaging in sexual activity with a child.

The two defendants walked free from the court after the verdicts were announced.

Earlier in the case, barrister Jon Close outlined the prosecution's case, centred on events said to have happened on the evening of Saturday, January 20, 2018.

It was claimed that Mr Nelson, of Crossgates Road, Hallbankgate, near Brampton, gave the girls a lift to Mr Toal's home in Hillary Grove, Harraby, and while there the two defendants had taken advantage of the teenagers, taking them to a bedroom and having sex with them.

In their evidence, the teenagers said they had been plied with alcohol.

But in their evidence, Mr Nelson and Mr Toal repeatedly said there was no sexual activity with the teenagers.

In his evidence, Mr Nelson said: “My life’s been destroyed by this.”

When questioned, Mr Toal said he did see the girls at his house but nothing untoward happened.

The jury were asked to consider the sexual activity with a child charge only if they had concluded that there had been sex with the girls but it did not amount to rape.

But this less serious allegation has now also been rejected by the jury.