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Rape victim's six-day ordeal in witness box

An Old Bailey jury was last night considering its verdict in a rape trial in which the victim spent six days in court answering questions from her alleged assailant.

Ralston Edwards was able to cross-examine the 34-year-old woman as he had chosen to defend himself.

Mr Edwards denies three charges of rape and one of buggery, claiming that the woman consented to sex.

During her questioning by Mr Edwards, the woman told him: "Throughout my ordeal I was trying to stay calm and not rile you. I wanted to get away but you raped and sodomised me."

Robert Holt, for the prosecution, claimed in court that Mr Edwards, 42, started talking to the woman, a mother of two, outside Lewisham station, south London, in December.

She had tried to shake him off but he followed her on to a bus and, when she alighted, pursued her into an alleyway where he began to grope her, said Mr Holt. "She was absolutely petrified. But she thought it best to co-operate, and asked if there was somewhere else they could go."

According to the prosecution, the woman was planning to attract someone's attention as she walked to Mr Edwards' flat, a squat, in nearby Catford - but the streets were deserted. She was in fear of her life, thinking he had a gun in his holdall. In fact, Mr Edwards was a condom salesman, and the bag contained 900 prophylactics.

The woman told the jury that she had pleaded with her captor as he pushed her onto a bare mattress on the floor, but he had ignored her.

When Mr Edwards eventually fell asleep she ran to a nearby garage where employees called the police.

Since the alleged attack the woman said she has received psychiatric care and is living at a secret address.

The jury is expected to return a verdict today.