Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Nightmare of Baby P resurfaces as ‘stepdad’ is convicted of raping tot

Baby Peter

Baby P's “stepfather” is facing a life sentence after being convicted of raping a two-year-old girl who should have been protected by social workers.

The girl, like the 17-month-old toddler who can now be called Peter, was on the Haringey Council child protection register.

The rape allegation came to light after the 32-year-old man and Peter's 27-year-old mother were arrested for his death.

The mother was found not guilty yesterday by the jury at the Old Bailey of cruelty to the girl.

The couple cannot be identified for legal reasons and were tried under false names amid fears that an internet hate campaign would try to influence jurors.

The jury of eight men and four women had no idea of the defendants' true identities.

They were told by Judge Stephen Kramer after they delivered their verdicts following three days of deliberations.

He said the couple were tried under false names to ensure they got a fair trial.

There was no apparent reaction from the jurors after he revealed that they had been trying a case connected to Peter.

The man and woman were remanded in custody for sentencing on May 21 and 22. The man will be sentenced for rape and for causing or allowing Peter's death in August 2007, along with the woman and lodger Jason Owen. The convictions mean the judge will be able to pass a life sentence on the stepfather if he considers him to be a danger to the public.

The mother and her lover, whom Peter knew as “dad”, lived in north London.

They were cleared last November, along with lodger Jason Owen (36), of Peter's murder. The mother pleaded guilty to causing or allowing the death and the men were found guilty by a jury. The maximum sentence for the offence is 14 years.

Judge Kramer warned the couple: “The likelihood is of very substantial sentences in both cases.”

In the latest trial, the girl victim became the youngest child to give evidence at the Old Bailey.

Defence barristers argued that the child's evidence was not reliable and the allegation could have been suggested to her by another child.

Medical evidence was inconclusive but a test showed a finding which “could be supportive” of the allegation.

The rape claim was made to an adult a few months after it happened, the court heard.

The girl was seen by a police officer the following month but shook her head when asked if the man molested her.

The allegation re-emerged last year when the girl was seen by a psychiatrist. She repeated it to another doctor.

Sally O'Neill QC, prosecuting, told the jury the girl made “spontaneous” statements not influenced by leading questions. She said the girl demonstrated the attack on her to the psychiatrist by using a doll and a toy bear.

Neither defendant gave evidence but they denied the charges.

Girl aged 3 is Old Bailey’s youngest witness

The little girl who was attacked by Baby Peter’s stepfather became the youngest child to give evidence at the Old Bailey.

The court was shown her video interview with police when she was three, in which she said the man had hurt her.

The 30-minute tape was shown to the jury as her evidence and then she faced cross-examination from defence lawyers.

In the tape the bubbly youngster giggled as she wriggled on and off a blue armchair in a special police interview suite.

She answered questions put to her by a specially-trained female police officer in a lively, infantile voice.

Then the girl appeared on a videolink screen after watching the interview on her own screen in a room at the court.

She played with two teddy bears and a toy hedgehog as she said she knew what lies were, and the difference between fibs and the truth. Although older and changed in her appearance, the girl retained the same sunny smile.

But it soon fell away when she was questioned. She went silent and refused to answer questions about why she initially told police the man had not touched her.

After an overnight break she was back to her old self and told Sally O’Neill QC, prosecuting, that what she said in the taped interview was the truth.

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