A CHARITY walker has been cleared of sexually assaulting a woman at Finlake Holiday Park after going there to celebrate finishing a 13 mile hike across Dartmoor.

Matti Gabriel was alleged to have touched the sleeping woman’s bottom and tried to pull off her leggings in a late night incident in a lodge at the resort near Chudleigh. 

He was found not guilty after telling a jury that the woman was awake and that he had started kissing her but stopped when she asked him to. 

He said that a string of apologetic texts which he sent the following day related to this misunderstanding rather than to any sexual assault.

Care worker Gabriel, aged 43, of Galahad Close, Exeter, denied two counts of sexual assault and was found not guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court. He was discharged by Judge David Evans. 

Miss Emily Pitts, prosecuting, said Gabriel stayed for two nights at Finlake before and after undertaking a 13-mile charity hike across Dartmoor in the summer of 2021. 

The woman was staying at the same lodge and moved into the same room as Gabriel after a male friend who had shared it with him the previous night had gone home early. 

The woman told police in a recorded video that she had been drinking gin with friends in a hot tub at a barbecue evening at the lodge and had gone to sleep in one twin bed, expecting Gabriel to use the other. 

She said she woke up to find him on top of her and that he touched her bottom before she pushed him off. She went to the bathroom and then back to bed on her own but alleged he returned and tried to pull off her leggings before giving up and going to sleep.

Gabriel said the woman was in his bed and he had started touching her and kissing her neck in the belief she may be interested but had stopped as soon as she made it clear she was not.

He said he apologised in texts the next day because he regretted what he did. He said the texts were not an admission of a sexual assault.