In the Courts: Gang-rape trial told of woman's distress

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The Independent Online
The Royal Military College of Science may seem an unlikely venue for a sex scandal. But four officers and two cadets are on trial for allegedly gang-raping a barmaid after a shared sauna. Yesterday, the trial was told how their alleged victim acted after the incident.

A former boyfriend of the barmaid who claims to have been gang- raped by six soldiers yesterday told how she stopped him hunting down the men hours after the alleged assault.

The man, a former boyfriend of the 24-year-old woman, said he became angry when she returned in tears late on the night of 27 May last year to the flat they shared.

He told Oxford Crown Court: "She was red and had clearly been crying. I asked where she had been but she just dashed into the bathroom. I began talking to her friend who was with her but was told she just wanted to be by herself. She then came back into the room and said she was sorry she had been away so long.

"She said she had been drinking with the soldiers and one of them had got rough with her. I was putting two and two together and was getting very angry. I went outside with the intention of going to the barracks but she stopped me. It later came out that she had been raped and I wrote down the names that she gave to me. I later gave that paper to the police."

The prosecution alleges that six soldiers took turns to rape the woman after sharing a sauna with her at the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham, Oxfordshire. Capt Philip Bates, 26, of Bordon, Hampshire, Capt Ian Barlow, 29, of North Allerton, North Yorkshire, Lt Darren Bartlett, 24, of Arborfield, Berkshire, Lt Matthew Tupling, 24, of Bordon, Cadet Andrew Stout, 20, of Newcastle upon Tyne, and Cadet Nicholas Oettinger, 20, of Preston, Lancashire, all deny the charge, and claim sex took place with her consent.

The court heard evidence from a florist, Margaret Wood, who said two of the defendants came into her shop close to the barracks several days after the alleged rape and ordered an pounds 18 bouquet of flowers to be delivered to the barmaid's workplace.

She revealed the soldiers pondered sending the alleged victim a "supergirl" card with the flowers.

Stuart Montrose, defending Cadet Oettinger, asked Mrs Wood: "Is it right that there are a selection of the cards in the shop which are not simply cards with flowers on them. And is it possible that these men were considering sending a 'supergirl' card with the flowers." She replied: "Yes, that could have been the case."

According to earlier evidence they eventually decided on a different card bearing the message "sorry for any misunderstanding".

The court also heard from the woman's GP, Dr Gavin Bartholomew, whom she consulted two days after the alleged attack.

He said: "She was quite distressed by the duration of the incident and she said the sex was very painful. I told her the allegations were serious and it was important to get a forensic examination. But she told me she did not wish to do that or get in touch with the police.

"She had one small bruise on her right thigh but I could not say how old that was ... There was nothing to suggest rough handling of her."

The trial continues.