A SERVING Leigh soldier has been cleared of raping two young women, one of them at his barracks in Wiltshire.
It was the second rape trial Steven Maher had faced as he was cleared of raping another woman by a jury last year.
The 33-year-old, a corporal with the Kings Hussars, was acquitted of two rape offences by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court following 10 and a half hours deliberations and he was discharged from the dock.
He sat with his head bowed when the jury returned their verdicts.
During the eight-day trial the jury of 10 women and two men heard allegations that Maher launched a sex attack on a 29-year-old woman in his office at his barracks on June 23, 2013. The woman claimed that he pulled down her lower clothing despite her protests and raped her.
The other alleged victim claimed he had raped her on March 20, 2010 in Leigh when she was 18 after they met for the first time at a wedding reception.
She claimed that she told him she was gay but in the early hours of the morning he raped her.
Maher, formerly of Leigh, but now of Sidbury Circular Road, Tidworth, disputed the allegations and denied raping either woman.
The court heard that he had previously been cleared of raping another woman, known to both the other alleged victims, and he told the jury that he believed the younger woman had been talked into making false allegations by the woman involved in last year’s trial.
Maher, who is married with children, claimed that the woman who alleged he raped her at the barracks had contracted a sexually transmitted disease and so invented a fictional account to explain it to her husband.