Published Friday, 23 May 2014
Mr Edaghese was arrested in October 2012, but always denied the charges. (© UTV)
Branding the not guilty verdict as "justice for a black man", Augustin Edaghese clasped his hands under his chin, and from his knees told the jury: "Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have given me my life back. I thought I had lost my life."
And in reference to the time he has spent in custody, a sobbing Mr Edaghese said: "20 months, 20 months ... I have done nothing wrong."
Mr Edaghese, 31 and from Monagh Crescent in Belfast, had initially faced two charges in relation to a claim made by a young Belfast woman, who alleged that she was drugged and sexually assaulted by the man she knew as Jason Banks.
The woman claimed that after meeting Mr Edaghese in a Belfast nightclub following contact on Facebook, he promised her a modelling contract.
During a trial held this week at Belfast Crown Court, the 23-year-old said that after meeting in the nightclub, she and Mr Edaghese then met in a city centre hotel on 21 November, 2011.
She told the jury that he brought her to a house in the University area of the city, where she believed he drugged her drink.
The woman also claimed that she woke up to find Mr Edaghese on top of her with her jeans around her knees.
When she reported the incident to police, a urine sample was taken and subsequently analysed for both illicit and illegal drugs including the 'date rape' drug GHB, none of which were found.
Mr Edaghese has always protested his innocence, claiming that after both he and the complainant drank several shots of brandy in the bedsit, he smoked a cannabis joint then fell asleep.
When he woke up, the young woman was gone.
Mr Edaghese was arrested in October 2012 and subsequently charged with administering a substance with sexual intent, and sexual assault - however during the second day of the trial, Judge David McFarland ordered the jury to find Mr Edaghese not guilty of the administering charge.
After deliberating the second count, the jury returned a majority 'not guilty' verdict of sexual assault, prompting Mr Edaghese to drop to his knees, sob uncontrollably and thank the jury.
© UTV News