Courts: Trial halted as rape case girl breaks down

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The Independent Online
A 10-year-old girl allegedly raped and indecently assaulted by a gang of classmates repeatedly broke down yesterday during the Old Bailey trial of the four boys she claims attacked her.

Giving evidence over a video link on the second day of the hearing, she became increasingly distressed and tired amid cross-examination by lawyers defending the schoolboys.

At one stage, while being questioned by Steven Kay QC about the alleged incident at their London primary school in May last year, she began sobbing uncontrollably. The hearing was adjourned several times to allow her to have a break.

She was told by the judge, Mrs Justice Bracewell: "I don't want you to get upset. Mr Kay and others have to ask questions and I am here to see the questions are fair. If they are not I'll stop them.

"I know it may be upsetting for you when sometimes you are asked about something you don't agree about. Try not to get upset."

The two 10-year-old boys standing trial at the Old Bailey for allegedly raping the girl, then aged nine, are believed to be the youngest-ever rape defendants in Britain. They are also accused with two other boys, aged 10 and 11, of indecently assaulting the girl.

The prosecution case is that they dragged her into lavatories at their school, forcibly stripped her and then fondled her before three boys took it in turns to rape her as the others looked on and laughed.

A third boy alleged to have raped her could not be prosecuted as he was nine at the time and under the age of criminal responsibility.

At the start of yesterday's hearing, the girl told the court she had previously been raped and sexually attacked by a group of men in Jamaica. She said she was raped in the home of a man and three of his friends before she came to England four years ago. She spoke haltingly as she began her evidence.

She was being cared for by her aunt and grandmother in Jamaica while her mother was in England.

The court was not told how old the girl was at the time, but she said she was not attending school when a neighbour, aged about 30, took her to his house and raped and beat her.

She said: "He looked like he was mad."

Mr Kay, defending one of the boys, said: "Did the man harm you?" Looking down, the girl whispered: "Yes, sometimes. Sometimes he took girls to his house."

Asked what the man did, she said: "He got his friends and they hurt us and after they hurt us he beat us and he hurt us with his finger and he slapped us round the face. He hit and hit us and beat us with sticks."

When it was repeatedly suggested by counsel that she had made the rape allegation up she said: "I told you everything I know and everything I remember and everything I did."

She told the jury: "I don't make up stories."

The accused sat with their legal teams and their families. One of the boys occupied the time during much of the cross-examination of his alleged victim by using a legal notepad to sketch reporters taking down the girl's evidence. Another sucked his thumb.

The morning session was adjourned early after the girl told the court: "I am getting upset because I am tired."

The girl again broke down just minutes after the court resumed for the afternoon.

Just 15 minutes into the session, the girl began crying, saying: "I'm tired."

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

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