A SERIAL abuser has been cleared of rape - just two weeks after he was jailed for seven and a half years for a catalogue of rape and assault offences against women.

A jury at the High Court in Livingston knew nothing of Griffith Hemming's past when they acquitted him yesterday.

A court order had prevented reporting of the earlier sentence in Edinburgh, which can now be revealed.

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Last month a trial heard how Hemming, 37, carried out a string of attacks on victims at houses in Edinburgh between 2006 and 2011.

Advocate depute Andrew Brown, QC, told jurors at the High Court in Edinburgh that two of the women had to "endure sexual assaults of the foulest kind".

Hemming, known as John Hemming, formerly of Peffermill Court, Craigmillar, Edinburgh, was found guilty of a total of 14 charges, including rape, assault, threats and drug supply.

A jury rejected his claim the victims were liars and the police were conspiring against him - by going round the women and "pumping them for information".

"It is all fabrication because you lot have got it in for my family," he said during an interview.

Hemming characterised one of the rape victims as a "beggar off the street".

He told police he had taken all types of drugs and had funded his former heroin use from benefits and begging.

One rape victim told the court: "I told him I didn't want it."

Another 32-year-old sex attack victim said when she met Hemming she thought he had "the gift of the gab". But she told the court he became violent and began punching and hitting her and in one incident threw a glass ashtray at her head.

She said: "John picked the ashtray up and threw it across the room and it hit me on the head."

Hemming, who has previous convictions for assault and drugs offences, had denied the offences but was unanimously convicted of all the charges.

One woman was pulled from a bed and had a chair pushed on her and had beer cans and a bin thrown at her.

Another was grabbed by the throat and had a glass thrown at her.

Jailing him for seven and a half years, judge Lord Kinclaven told Hemming he had been found guilty of serious offences against four women. Then, after hearing Hemming was about to face another trial, the judge imposed a reporting restriction.

During the later five-day trial, which ended yesterday, a 19-year-old mother told how she met Hemming in a fish and chip shop and they began chatting.

She said she was laughing and willingly kissing and cuddling him as they walked down Leith Walk together.

She also said she consented to heavy petting and to performing sex acts with him.

But she claimed she had not consented to having sexual intercourse with him in the stairwell of a block of flats in Leith.

With mascara streaming down her cheeks, she said: "We ended up having sex on the stair, but I told him to stop. I didn't want it to happen."

She said she was "mortified" when three female students caught them on the stairs and she told the jury she wished the earth had opened up and swallowed her.

However, she didn't tell anyone she had been raped and had stayed drinking at the girls' flat until the early hours of the morning after admitting she had sex with him.

Hemming had denied rape and lodged a special defence of consent.