A teenager accused of rape has been found not guilty by a jury, who heard he had been sleepwalking during the sexual encounter.
The relieved 19-year-old hugged his mother and sister after being cleared yesterday following a trial at Leicester Crown Court.
Afterwards, he described the "absolute hell" of waiting two years for the trial to get to court.
He said: "I'm very relieved and grateful to the jury for a fair hearing. I can now start rebuilding my life and apply to university, in the hope of pursuing a career in medicine.
"My family has been unbelievably supportive."
When asked about his thoughts towards his accuser, he said: "I've no bad feelings now. I've no idea for the reason of the allegation.
"I hope we never cross paths again. I'm grateful we have a jury system and justice has been done."
During an eight-day trial, the teenager told the jury of six men and six women he had "no recollection" of having sex with the then 15-year-old girl, who claimed he had raped her, when he was aged 17.
The court heard he had a history of sleepwalking since childhood.
Defence barrister Neil Guest said that if sex did take place as the girl claimed, the defendant was suffering from "sexomnia" at the time, and had acted involuntary, with no knowledge or intent.
Mr Guest said he was asleep and unaware of what had happened.
Giving evidence, the defendant said he could not be "100 per cent sure" if sex had taken place. But he denied raping the girl on April 26, 2011.
The prosecution alleged the sexual encounter happened in the lounge of his friend's home in Loughborough, during a sleep-over. The defendant and the complainant had been left to share the lounge.
The girl, now 17, said she fell asleep fully dressed on the sofa. She claimed she awoke to find the defendant on top of her having sex.
She alleged he then made excuses, suggesting he had been drunk or she had been dreaming.
The defendant said he had drunk five or six cans of beer and shared five or six "spliffs" with friends during the afternoon and evening. He said he drifted off to sleep on a chair across the room from her – but later woke up on the sofa and wondered how he had got there.
He said: "She was in the chair, curled up in a ball. She looked upset."
Prosecutor, Felicity Gerry asked him: "You're saying your actions were not voluntary and happened automatically in your sleep?"
"Yes," he replied.
The defendant's mother and sister described incidents of finding the defendant sleepwalking, with his eyes open, since the age of seven.
Sleep expert, Dr Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, told the court that references to sleep-related sex, or sexomnia, began appearing in medical research about 10 years ago.
He said the defendant attended his centre for two overnight sleep recordings and he was left with "little doubt" that he was a sleepwalker.