Restaurateur cleared of rape

03 May 2001
Restaurateur cleared of rape

The owner of Sunderland restaurant 11 Tavistock Place has been cleared of rape.

Mark Hird, who runs the city centre restaurant, was accused of carrying out the attack in a house while his own wife slept in an adjoining bedroom.

Newcastle Crown Court was told that Hird at first denied having had sex with the woman on 22 June last year. But after police found DNA evidence, he admitted having sex. Hird, 28, said he had lied because he did not want his wife to find out.

Last week, after a five-day trial, a jury of eight women and four men cleared him of rape.

After the hearing, Hird said: "For the last nine months, I have gone through the kind of hell that I never want to go through again.

"My wife and family have stood by me through it all. All I want now is to get on with my life."

Hird, from Burdon Hall, near Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, has been on bail and has continued to run the restaurant while awaiting trial.

He is the son-in-law of North-east developer and entrepreneur Russell Foster.

He had previously worked at the Malmaison hotel, on Newcastle's Quayside.

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