Pair who celebrated raping 13-year-old girl locked up

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The Independent Online

Two men who celebrated raping a 13-year-old girl by giving each other a high-five were starting sentences today.

Walter Mwale, 19, and 22-year-old Elvis Taona began talking to the teenager and her friends, some of whom they knew, on the afternoon of July 29 last year.

The girl had been drinking vodka in Aylesbury town centre, Buckinghamshire, and was drunk by the time the men approached their group, Oxford Crown Court heard.

Mwale and Taona took the girl to a wheelie bin store in a nearby block of flats in the Prebendal Farm area of Aylesbury, where they both raped her in an attack described by Judge Julian Hall as "sordid".

Her ordeal came to an end when one of her friends opened the store cupboard door and found her there in a distressed state.

The two men were then seen by another one of the girls to high-five each other in celebration.

Sentencing Mwale to eight years in a young offenders' institution and Taona to eight years in jail, Judge Hall accepted they had not coerced the girl into the act but said: "This was a sordid little episode.

"The two of you came across a group of schoolgirls who were drunk and you took advantage of one of them, ending up in a storeroom.

"The incident itself lasted really quite a short time. What I find was particularly distasteful was your celebration of the event afterwards when you high-fived each other."

The men did not make any threats to the teenager, who wrote a victim impact statement to explain to the judge how the incident had affected her life, but she was in a "vulnerable" state, the court heard.

She reported the assault to police several days later. Both men denied rape but were found guilty by a jury in January.

Daren Samat, defending Taona, said his Zimbabwe-born client noted to the Probation Service in a pre-sentence report "how differently women behave in the UK as opposed to his native home".

He said Taona, of Court Farm Road, Oxford, fled persecution in Zimbabwe and that his mother works for the NHS, although his father is dead.

Taona hopes to pursue an acting career and has appeared in feature films, both as a double and in walk-in parts, Mr Samat added.

He wrote a letter to the court expressing his remorse for mixing with the group of six teenage girls that afternoon. Stuart Jessop, representing Mwale, said the incident was "out of character" for his defendant.

Mwale, of Dennis Road, Moseley, Birmingham, was also given a six-month sentence for possessing a knife which was found hidden in his sock when police spoke to him a few days after the rape. The sentence will run concurrently with that given to him for the sex attack.