A MAN cleared of raping a young girl and sexually assaulting her friend has told how he contemplated suicide in the months leading up to his trial.

In November last year a jury failed to reach verdicts after 63-year-old grandfather David Fielding was accused of raping a seven-year-old girl, sexually assaulting her and her 10-year-old friend and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

The Crown Prosecution Service sought a retrial and yesterday, after less than three hours of deliberation, a jury at Bolton Crown Court found him not guilty of all charges.

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Fielding said: "I did prepare myself for the worst.

"I had my Bible in my hand. When I heard the first verdict I just looked at the jury and thanked them."

There were sobs from members of Mr Fielding's family and those of the girls as the verdicts were read out.

During the 12 day trial, the jury was told that Fielding dragged the girls into his flat at Georgina Court, Morris Green on May 28 last year and carried out the offences.

But while defendant, a former foster carer who did not know the girls, admitted the children had been in his flat after he invited them to see his photograph of Coronation Street star Michelle Keegan, he denied touching them.

Mr Fielding is a haemophilia sufferer who had a liver transplant 20 years ago after contracting hepatitis C from contaminated blood products.

But he says it was only the thought of the generosity of his transplant donor which has stopped him killing himself in the 11 months since he was arrested.

"I became suicidal and came within five minutes of doing it," he said.

"But I treasure life and I owe it to my donor to live as long as I can. That's why I didn't commit suicide when I was going to do it."

Mr Fielding, who has previously campaigned for contaminated blood victims, says his life has been devastated by the allegations made against him.

"It wrecks you life straight away. I knew damn well what this would do to me, " he said.

"Everything I have is gone — home, car, life.

"I'll no longer be able to live in Bolton again. I had lived here all my life."

Throughout the trials Mr Fielding, a father-of-three and grandfather-of-two, was supported by his family.

"This has had a massive and devastating effect on my family. They have been through hell and back trying to face the public out there.

"They knew all along I was an innocent man. I am not physically capable of what they suggested I had done."