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Baby P killer in appeal against rape conviction

One of the three people jailed over the death of Baby Peter claimed yesterday that he did not have a fair trial for the rape of a two-year-old girl.

Steven Barker's QC, Bernard Richmond, told the Court of Appeal in London that an Old Bailey judge should have halted the case against him. Barker, 33, was not present for the hearing before the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, and two other judges. He is applying for permission to challenge his "unsafe" rape conviction. Barker was given a 12-year sentence for causing or allowing the death of 17-month-old Peter Connelly, but he was also jailed for life with a minimum term of 10 years after being convicted of rape at a separate trial.

Peter's mother, Tracey Connelly, and lodger Jason Owen, 37, were also put behind bars over the child's death. One of the arguments put forward to the appeal judges by Mr Richmond was that the evidence of the victim, who was aged four, should have been excluded. The trial judge, he submitted, should have ruled that the child was not a "competent" witness.

Lord Judge has reserved judgment.