By Paul Osborne

Toua Udia has been cleared of sexually assaulting a man in a Tesco toilet ©FacebookPapua New Guinean weightlifter Toua Udia has been cleared of sexually assaulting a man in a Tesco toilet prior to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Udia had been accused of touching a man inappropriately in the supermarket toilet in Dalmarnock Road, Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire on July 21, a claim he denied.

Following a two-day trial, Sheriff Martin Jones said he was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the Crown had proved the case against Udia and acquitted him with a not proven verdict.

A statement on the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee Facebook page condemned the trial, stating that Udia had been "humiliated" by media reports of the incident in the past two weeks.

"Over the past few weeks Toua has had to endure a lot of humiliation as our people chose to judge him because of what they had read," the statement read.

"Just as you were quick to criticise and judge him, I hope you are just as quick to apologise and encourage him."

Male same-sex relationships are illegal in Papua New Guinea, with those caught engaging in "indecent practices between males" eligible for imprisonment for a term "not exceeding three years", under sections 210 and 212 of the Papua New Guinea Criminal Code.

Speaking after the trial, Ian Moir, Udia's lawyer, added: "Udia has maintained his innocence throughout and is delighted with the outcome of the case.

"He now wishes to put this behind him and is looking forward to returning to see his family."

Despite the allegations against him, Udia was still able to compete in the men's 77 kilogram weightlifting event at Glasgow 2014, where he finished ninth.

Toua Udia was part of the Papua New Guinea squad that won two gold medals at Glasgow 2014, both of which in weightlifting ©FacebookToua Udia was part of the Papua New Guinea squad that won two gold medals at Glasgow 2014, both of which in weightlifting ©Facebook

In evidence on Monday (August 4), Udia's accuser told Glasgow Sheriff Court the athlete touched his testicles while he was helping him strap an ice pack to his leg.

The alleged victim said Udia had his left leg up on the sink and was trying to tie a bandage around it and he asked him "Are you okay?"

The witness claimed Udia asked him to help tie the bandage and while he did Udia touched his private parts with two fingers.

During the trial yesterday the court heard from Crown witness Graham Buchanan, a security guard at Tesco, who said a man came up to him in the store and told him a male athlete had touched him in the toilets.

Buchanan told the court that the man seemed quite angry and pointed out Udia, who was wearing a red tracksuit bearing the name of his nation and the Commonwealth badge.

When questioned by the security guard, Udia looked "calm and relaxed" and his demeanour did not change when he told him there had been a complaint about him, Buchanan told the court.

The security guard explained that Udia later gave his own version of events.

"He stated that in the toilet he was trying to tighten his bandage and another male was asked to help him and when he was helping, the accused's hand slipped and struck the gentleman," Buchanan told the court.

The prosecutor urged Sheriff Jones to convict Udia, stating that the accuser was in no doubt that it was a deliberate act, and other witnesses had noted the complainer's anger afterwards.

Udia's lawyer rebuked the claims, however, arguing that "the conduct of the accused is not eloquent of someone who has committed a sexual offence".

He added: "The witnesses speak to him co-operating, and going about the store for quite some time."

"He tells the security staff when they make him aware of why they want to speak to him that there was an accident and that he had apologised."

In his verdict, Sheriff Jones explained: "Having regarded the evidence and all of the circumstances of this case, I am not satisfied that the Crown have proved the case against you and I acquit you on a verdict of not proven."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]