Jury quickly clears Duntroon cadet on rape, assault charges
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Jury quickly clears Duntroon cadet on rape, assault charges

A Duntroon cadet has been cleared of allegedly raping and choking a woman in his dormitory on Anzac Day.

Jurors arrived at their verdict quickly, coming back less than two hours after they began deliberating on the fate of former Royal Military College cadet Jonathan David Hibbert, 26.

Royal Military College cadet Jonathan David Hibbert leaves the ACT Supreme Court on Monday.

Royal Military College cadet Jonathan David Hibbert leaves the ACT Supreme Court on Monday.

Photo: Melissa Adams

Hibbert was visibly relieved as he was acquitted of two charges, and there were sighs of relief and tears from family members supporting him in the ACT Supreme Court's public gallery.

He had been accused of pinning a female cadet down in his room and forcing himself on her, despite her pleas to stop what had initially been consensual sex.

The pair had been dancing at the campus bar following Anzac Day commemorations, and went up to Hibbert's room.

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The female cadet, who was relatively new at RMC, was having one of the best days of her life, on a high after marching for her country for the first time.

She had a crush on Hibbert, a more senior cadet who filled the role of "battalion morale", a position designed to raise spirits and relieve tension during the difficult training period.

They began having sex in Hibbert's room, but the woman became uncomfortable.

he ignored the request.

Hibbert, it was alleged, told her he was not finished, and held her down by her neck and arm.

Witnesses saw bruising on the woman's arm and reported darkening of the skin near her chest area.

Hibbert denied choking the woman, but said he likely grabbed her arm and put his hand on her chest during what he described as "vigorous" intercourse.

In maintaining his innocence, Hibbert said he was in "absolutely no doubt" that the woman was consenting.

Hibbert said he eased off when she indicated she was uncomfortable, and went to change positions when she told him to stop.

He said she then pushed or guided him off with her hands, making it clear consent was withdrawn.

The sex stopped and the atmosphere changed, he said, and he said sorry and asked if there was anything he could do.

"It was weird, I felt weird," he said.

"I didn't know what was going on. I was confused and all of a sudden she was acting like she didn't like me any more."

His barrister Philip Dunn, QC, argued the female cadet had made up the story to protect her reputation, because the pair had been seen together through a window by other RMC students.

The jury were shown a text message from a friend of Hibbert's, warning him that he could be seen with the woman and to shut his blinds.

Mr Dunn said the female cadet knew the pair were in breach of the college's fraternisation rules, and manufactured the story to shield herself.

The prosecution, however, pointed out that such a lie would not have protected her reputation, because it included admitting she had freely gone to Hibbert's room for sex.

Mr Drumgold said the complainant was reliable, and had given consistent accounts when she complained to friends, police, and a doctor.

He asked the jury to compare her happy mood before she went to Hibbert's room to how she'd appeared afterwards, clearly distressed, crying, and emotional.

The defence made much of the minutes just after the sex had stopped.

The female cadet had stayed in Hibbert's room for 10 minutes making calls, despite being clothed and free to leave.

Mr Dunn alleged the woman was trying to work out a plan to help her protect herself.

The complainant strongly denied that, saying she was in shock, and was making calls to hear a familiar voice and to find someone to help her.

Mr Dunn had attacked the complainant's credibility, describing her story as unreliable, inconsistent, and a fabrication.

Hibbert was released and made no comment as he left the ACT Supreme Court on Thursday, surrounded by family.

He told the court on Tuesday he was still an officer in the Australian Army.