A 10-year-old girl yesterday told a court she had been gang-raped by a group of her classmates. Andrew Buncombe details the girl's shocking evidence.
The Old Bailey was hushed yesterday as the girl told how she had been dragged into a school lavatory, forced to the ground and raped by her laughing assailants.
Speaking through a live video link, she said three of the boys took it in turn to rape and assault her while two others - one, her cousin - looked on. Often breaking down into tears, the girl - aged just nine at the time of the alleged attack - said the gang had threatened to beat her up if she told anyone.
Two 10-year-old boys are charged with rape. They are believed to be the youngest-ever rape defendants in Britain. Along with a 10 and 11-year- old, they are also charged with indecent assault. All four boys deny all the charges.
A fifth boy, aged nine at the time, has not been charged because he is below the age of criminal responsibility. None can be named.
Biting her lip and with her eyes downcast, the girl said the alleged attack at a London school had taken place during the lunch-break while other children played outside.
The boys took her coat and dragged her into the lavatory, her cousin holding her arm behind her back as she was told to take her clothes off. She struggled in vain to fight the off the boys, who tied a coat over her mouth to muffle her screams.
Her voice reduced to a whisper, she said: "[One of the boys] was saying `Take your clothes off'. I was fighting and I was trying to fight them away but when they got my clothes off [one of the boys] lay on top of me and hurt me."
The girl started to cry as she revealed how she was forced to the ground and raped, as the onlookers laughed at her, during the alleged incident last May.
One of the gang refused to take part, despite the demands of the others. She said: "They were telling him to come and he was saying `I ain't going to come'."
"I said ... please don't hurt me and he said `I am not going to hurt you because you are my friend'."
That afternoon she returned to her lessons, not having told anyone of the incident because she was too scared. After school, she returned home with her cousin, who stayed the night at her house.
The court was told that the boy "shadowed" her as she tried to tell her mother what had happened. The girl said: "He followed me when I was going to tell my mum."
She eventually told her mother that some boys had told her to strip, but did not say any more after she was criticised for not standing up to them.
"Unfortunately, her mother did not quite take on board what she was being told," said Mark Dennis, for the prosecution.
The girl asked to stay at home the next day but her mother made her go to school, writing her a note for the headmistress asking her to investigate her daughter's claims.
The headmistress interviewed the boys and it was only at this point that the full details were revealed. Mr Dennis said one of the boys admitted to the headmistress touching the girl with his penis but all of them claimed she had consented. The police were called in and all five boys were arrested.
Mr Dennis told the court that the boys and their victim all knew each other very well. Yesterday the four boys, who were all referred to by their first names, sat in court reading books and comics they had brought with them.
The law was changed four years ago to allow boys as young as 10 to be charged with rape and Mr Dennis said one issue in the case would be whether they knew they were doing wrong. He concluded: "These days it is unrealistic to suggest that these boys did not fully appreciate that they were doing something that was plainly, seriously wrong."
The case continues.
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