Rapist aged just 16 is locked up for five years for string of attacks

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A 16-year-old who raped a girl as she walked home alone and attacked another teenager months later has been locked up for five years.

The uncle of one of the victims branded the sentence handed down by Judge Peter Armstrong at Teesside Crown Court as ‘a joke’.

“That’s nowhere near long enough for what he did,” he added. “But at the end of the day it’s about the girls and helping them recover from their ordeal.”

The court heard the youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, targeted his first victim as she walked home at about 9pm from the centre of Peterlee.

“She became aware of him when he shouted for her to come over,” said Christine Egerton, prosecuting. “He grabbed her and pulled her towards a nearby tree line.

“She was crying and trying to fight him off, but he pushed her to the ground and punched her twice in the stomach.

“He also put his forearm forcibly over her mouth in a bid to keep her quiet, before kneeling on top of her and raping her.

“The victim later estimated her ordeal lasted between five and seven minutes.”

The court was told the girl gave a good description of her attacker, but police were unable to trace him until he was arrested on suspicion of another rape several months later.

“That offence also took place in Peterlee,” added Ms Egerton. “The defendant approached a group of girls and asked for a sexual encounter, telling them he would show them a good time.

“One of the girls was dragged to an area known locally as the ‘graffiti underpass’, where she was raped.

“It later emerged that earlier that evening the defendant had sexually assaulted another teenage girl.”

The 16-year-old admitted two offences of rape, and one of sexual assault.

He was of previous good character.

Robin Patton, defending, said in mitigation: “This defendant had a difficult upbringing, there being social services involvement with his family since he was two years old.

“He was living a feral lifestyle, but he has made enormous progress since being remanded into a secure unit, where he has boundaries and appropriate guidance.

“One wonders why social services did not intervene more fully, and one wonders why the CCTV operator who caught some of the circumstances of the second set of offences did not call the police.”

Judge Armstrong ordered the youth to be detained for five years.

He told him: “These were serious offences and you were intoxicated, something which appeared to be often the case for you at the time.

“It has to be custody, the only question is how long.

“As a general rule, the appropriate sentence for someone of your age is half or two-thirds of the sentence which would apply to an adult.

“There is some indication of remorse and understanding since you have had the benefit of proper teaching in the secure unit.”

The judge said he would not allow the youth to be named in the press because of his vulnerability.

An order was made banning the youth from having any contact with his victims for life, and banning him from unsupervised contact with any female child under 16 years old for 10 years.

The youth must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.