Red Dwarf actor `led gang-rape of woman in flat'


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The Independent Online

A young woman was raped and subjected to a series of "traumatic sexual assaults" by the comedy actor Craig Charles and two other men, Southwark Crown Court was told yesterday.

[March 4 1995: 'Red Dwarf' star cleared of rape]

On the opening day of the trial, Mr Charles, 30, the star of the cult sci-fi TV series Red Dwarf and his co-defendant Jack Peploe, 36, pleaded not guilty to rape and four other charges of indecent assault.

Opening the prosecution's case against the two men, Jeremy Carter-Manning, QC, summarised the events of 8 July last year. He told the court that Mr Charles and two other men called at the south London flat of a woman he once had a relationship with.

Mr Carter-Manning told the court that the men had taken cocaine, tied and blindfolded the woman, ripped off her clothing, forced her to have oral and penetrative sex against her will, and inserted cocaine and articles into her vagina. After the "out of control' events, Mr Charles threatened the woman "not to tell anyone".

Although the Crown case described three men being involved in the alleged attack, the third man, known only as "Roger" has avoided arrest. Mr Charles from Kennington, London, and Mr Peploe from Camberwell, London, jointly face five charges.The woman told the court how she answered the door of her flat between 5.30 and 6 am. Of the three men at the door, she knew only Mr Charles, who introduced the others as "Jack and Roger".

Mr Charles, she told the court, began to talk to Jack and Roger about how they had made love during their former relationship. Embarrassed, she left the flat's main room to go and make tea in the kitchen. She said Mr Charles followed her and told her he had "brought his friends round so they could f--- me". She said: "I looked him straight in the eye and said, no."

She then told the court Mr Charles and the other men had begun sniffing cocaine, and the actor, she said, had also tried to get out sex magazines he had left in her flat.

Followed to the bedroom by the three men, the woman described to the court how Mr Charles had sat on her bed and began rubbing the inside of her leg. When she made an attempt to get up from the bed and leave, Mr Charles and Mr Peploe, she said, grabbed her and tied her hands behind her back with a stocking. Standing in the witness box, and often in tears, the woman told the court that she then "felt everything being ripped apart".

Her ski pants and knickers were torn off and she alleged that Mr Charles blindfolded her. She said that as she was raped, Mr Charles had been ordering her to "talk dirty". Reduced to almost a whisper she said: "I was just crying."She said Mr Charles told the other men she was "dirty" and "loved" what was happening to her.

Earlier, Mr Carter-Manning described how after the incident the woman had gone to her neighbours and was eventually taken to a special police examination suite in Wimbledon. However, a "suitably qualified" doctor could not be found and she was not medically examined until the following afternoon.

By then, Mr Carter Manning said, the woman had washed herself with a flannel "because she felt dirty".

The examination, he said, found no injuries apart from tenderness in her vagina - "There was nothing to confirm or refute" what had happened, and no semen was found.

Forensic evidence found in the flat showed traces of cocaine, and the fingerprints of Mr Charles and Mr Peploe found on objects, such as a can of Coca-Cola and a drinking glass.

Mr Carter-Manning told the court that there was "uncertainty" in the forensic evidence.

The trial was adjourned until today.