11th Jul, 2020

Rapist of vulnerable boy at Hereward college for disabled in Coventry faces prison

A YOUNG man who repeatedly raped another male student at a Coventry college which had been criticised for a worrying number of sexual incidents is to be admitted to a psychiatric unit and faces prison.

A judge warned that ‘despite his difficulties,’ the 23-year-old from Nuneaton had been ‘well aware of what he was doing’ – and when he lied to a jury.

He was a residential student at Hereward College in Tile Hill, Coventry, which caters for young people with disabilities and learning difficulties.

The defendant, who can’t be named to protect the identity of his victim, had denied four charges of raping the other young man during incidents in his room and in a shed.

But he was found guilty of all four charges following a trial at Warwick Crown Court, after which the case was adjourned for psychiatric reports to be prepared on him.

At the resumed hearing, his barrister Sophie Murray said there was an application for an interim hospital order that would allow him to be assessed over three months.

Judge Stephen Eyre QC responded by saying a prison sentence coupled with a hospital direction was more appropriate.

Judge Eyre made the interim hospital order, directing the defendant to surrender himself at Brooklands Hospital on Monday.

But he told Miss Murray: “My view is that your client knew what he was doing, and that his mental difficulties do not impact on this offending.”

During the trial the victim, assisted by an intermediary, gave evidence from a witness box screened off from the dock after a recording of his police interview had been played to the jury.

Prosecutor Peter Cooper asked him how many times it had happened in the defendant’s room at the college, where he was also a student, and he replied: “I think it was six or seven.”

He said it also happened seven or eight times in a shed in the grounds.

He continued: “Before he started to do this disgusting thing to me, he said ‘If you tell anyone about this, I’m going to hit you.’”

And he commented: “This is something I am going through, and it’s not nice for me. I can’t believe I am in this position now, talking about something that is absolutely disgraceful, disgusting, revolting.”

He said similar things had happened in the shed, adding: “I thought ‘you dirty so-and-so, you can’t do that. Who do you think you are?”

The defendant claimed in court that none of the incidents had taken place, but, after deliberating for more than five hours at the end of the trial in September, the jury agreed they had.

In an Ofsted report published in January it was said that governors, leaders and managers had not ensured the college had met its responsibilities ‘in relation to working together to safeguard children.’

It said that safeguarding incidents showed ‘a worryingly high proportion of the incidents involve sexualised behaviour, and in some cases sexual assaults by one learner on another.’

And it commented that ‘leaders do not have a sufficiently wide range of strategies to tackle this endemic issue.’

But the report pointed out that since the inspection, the college had appointed a new safeguarding manager, and a subsequent inspection in April found ‘significant improvements’ to the safeguarding processes.

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