A MAN has been cleared of assault after a court heard a "master-slave" sex session inspired by erotic novel Fifty Shades Of Grey overstepped the boundaries of fantasy.
Steven Lock, 43, and a woman in her forties, who cannot be named for legal reasons, began a relationship based around sado-masochistic role play after meeting on a dating website.
But prosecutors alleged that last August the fantasy went too far as Lock chained the women "like a dog" to his bedroom floor and whipped her repeatedly with a rope.
He denied assault causing actual bodily harm, saying the woman had consented.
Today at Ipswich Crown Court, a jury of 10 men and two women took just over two hours to find Lock, of Plover Road, Ipswich, not guilty.
During the trial, Lock was asked by defence counsel Roger Thomson if he and the alleged victim had read Fifty Shades Of Grey.
He replied: "That's where we got the idea from."
Outside court, jeweller Mr Lock said he was relieved that the jury "had seen sense".
He said: "It's the right verdict. This case should never have reached court.
"As far as I'm concerned, it was a consensual activity between adults."
The court heard the couple took part in group sex and bondage together and the woman had the words "Property of Steven Lock" tattooed around her genitals.
The woman also signed a contract promising Mr Lock free use of her body and entitling him to lash her if she did not follow his rules.
Lock told the court the woman consented to the activity and the couple agreed on the code word "Red", which was to be used if either of them began to feel uncomfortable.
The woman, who told the court she broke down in tears and screamed as she was beaten 14 times with the rope, never used this word.
She said: "I knew there would be pain involved and I knew I wasn't going to like it but I'd agreed to it and had to follow it through."
Mr Thomson said Lock felt bad about what he had done.
Giving evidence, Lock said: "It was supposed to be kinky fun, I didn't want her to cry."
She suffered bruising to the buttocks and neck.
After the lashings, the couple had sex then Lock left her chained to the floor while he went on his computer, the court heard.
Mr Thomson told jurors that Lock accepted he had caused the woman harm but compared the situation to a football match in which all parties have agreed to take part.
He said: "The issue is did she consent and did Mr Lock believe that she consented?
"Is this an assault any more than a mistimed tackle in football?
"Fifty Shades Of Grey is not a manual: it's a work of fiction and this is a case which demonstrates that things can go wrong."
Prosecutor Duncan O'Donnell told jurors: "It was part of a master-slave fantasy and she went there expecting a fantasy when Mr Lock wanted reality.
"She may have expected some playful spanking, to be hit lightly perhaps, but she received a lashing with a rope."