Court hears details of Clitheroe sex attack on 13-year-old girl

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A TEENAGE rape victim subjected to a sex attack in Clitheroe has been the target of verbal abuse in the town from others, a court has heard.

Preston Crown Court was told the length of time it has taken for the case to be resolved and the offender’s denial led at one stage to a very large number of people thinking she was lying.

As a result, the victim and her family have been verbally abused, with material posted on the Internet and social networking sites and even threats of arson being made. The threats have made her feel horrible and that what happened was her fault.

Some of those responsible went on to apologise when they subsequently heard about a youth pleading guilty to raping the 13-year-old.

A 16-year-old youth appeared at the crown court on Friday for sentencing over the sex attack which took place in January last year. He cannot be named by order of the court and was 15 at the time of the rape. Judge Norman Wright said what had subsequently happened to the girl was a snap shot of how a part of society could behave when they took a stance.

The court heard how a group of young people, including the defendant and girl, walked around Clitheroe drinking, chatting and listening to music. The girl became drunk.

Miss Rachel Smith (prosecuting) said she later described being pushed over and held down by the boy who raped her. She told him she didn’t want to have sex and was telling him to get off her.

That evening, her parents went out looking for the girl. The mother apparently heard the end of the rape when she rang her. The teenager was crying and shouting “stop” and “no”.

Two other voices were heard, one at least of which was male. The rape had taken place in a back yard off Shawbridge Street.

A man walking his dog went to the aid of the girl who was hysterical. She was naked from the waist down.

The defendant later claimed to police “I told her to get off me. I could get her done for rape”.

At the time of the offence the defendant was on bail over another sex attack on a 13-year-old girl.

Miss Smith added: “A feature of the case, though not the direct responsibility of the defendant, is that as a consequence of his denial and the length of time it took for this matter to be resolved, very large numbers of people in the Clitheroe area adopted the view that she was lying, that the defendant was telling the truth and set about in a variety of extremely unpleasant ways expressing those views.

“The family have been verbally abused. There has been abusive material posted on the internet, all sorts of dreadful things said about her on the internet and social networking sites, all on the basis he was telling the truth.

“Extraordinarily some, on hearing of the defendant’s guilty plea, came forward to apologise, though not all of them. A police officer identified some of the perpetrators of abuse.

“In at least one instance a young person had to attend a police station to address what she had done and write an apology to the family.

“Through the officers, some of the young people have made it their business to apologise, but by no means all of them.”

As a result of what happened, the girl suffers nightmares and her school work has suffered.

Mr Robert Kearney (defending) said that as a result of the guilty plea, the girl did not have to give evidence to the court.

He said it was a sad factor in the case that all the group were in drink that evening.

The barrister said there had been kissing between the boy and girl beforehand.

“I don’t say at the time that he thought there was any mistake about signals being given. He pleaded guilty to the rape on the basis he knew she wasn’t consenting,” added counsel.

Mr Kearney said the boy’s background was “quite a sad story”.

He added: “He asks through me to apologise to the girl for what he has done.

“He can be a decent young man after what will be a significant sentence for a young man of his age.”

Judge Norman Wright has adjourned sentencing to Wednesday afternoon, in order to reflect on his decision. The youth is in a children’s secure unit.