This is why Peterborough boy, 16, will not stand trial following knifepoint rape and separate sexual assault in city

A youth accused of raping a woman at knifepoint on a footpath in Peterborough, and sexually assaulting another female in the same spot less than a week later, is not fit to stand trial, a court has heard.

The 16-year-old boy from Peterborough - who cannot be named for legal reasons- is said to have carried out the attacks near Rhubarb Bridge last year.

Police officers putting out notices and talking to passers-by on a walkway between Rhubarb Bridge at North Bretton -  the scene of one of the attacks

Police officers putting out notices and talking to passers-by on a walkway between Rhubarb Bridge at North Bretton - the scene of one of the attacks

While the youth is not mentally fit and capable to stand trial, the hearing started at Cambridge Crown Court on Tuesday, with a jury - made up of eight women and four men - told they had to decide if the boy carried out the attacks or not.

Why will the boy not stand trial?


The court was told two consultant forensic psychiatrists had prepared reports on the teenager - one acting for the prosecution and one acting for the defence.


The jury heard the two psychiatrists agreed the boy would not be able to follow legal proceedings, or give evidence, because of his mental conditions, and was therefore unfit to stand trial.

Police officers putting out notices and talking to passers-by on a walkway between Rhubarb Bridge at North Bretton - the scene of one of the attacks

Police officers putting out notices and talking to passers-by on a walkway between Rhubarb Bridge at North Bretton - the scene of one of the attacks


The boy is not in court for the hearing, with the dock standing empty throughout the case, but he is represented by barrister Claire Matthews, and his parents sat in the public gallery making notes.


Jurors took a different oath or affirmation when they were sworn in at the start of the trial, compared to ones taken at the beginning of the majority of crown court trials.

UPDATE: Jury finds Peterborough boy, 16, did commit act of rape and sexual assault despite hearing he was not fit to stand trial

What the judge said


Judge Jonathan Cooper told the jury: “Through no fault of his own, he (the defendant) is not fit to stand trial.


“There cannot be a trial in the usual way.


“You will not decide if he is guilty or not.


“What you have to decide is if he did any or all of the acts alleged.


“There is an important public interest as to whether he did the act, whether or not there can be a full trial.”

So what next?


The jury will be asked to either return a finding that the boy committed the offences, or return not guilty verdicts. They will not be able to return a guilty verdict.


The trial is set to last until the end of the week.


The charges against the youth are: Rape, sexual assault and threatening another person with an article with a point or blade, relating to the incident on September 30, and sexual assault and robbery relating to the October 6 incident.

What's the background to the case?

The youngster is accused of raping a 24-year-old woman who was walking along the footpath near to AMF Bowling off Bretton Way, near to the bridge on September 30. It is alleged the boy threatened the woman with a kitchen knife.


A second attack is said to have taken place on Friday, October 6.


It is said a 19-year-old woman was walking along the footpath which runs alongside the bowling alley, near to Rhubarb Bridge, when he slapped her on the bottom, grabbed her by the arms and snatched her handbag.


The youth - who was 15 at the time of the allegations - and the two victims were not known to each other.

Opening the case, what did the prosecution say:

Duncan O’Donnell, prosecuting, told the court: “You will hear some very unpleasant evidence, I’m afraid - shocking evidence.


“The best advice is to look at all the evidence dispassionately.”


Mr O’Donnell told the court the first complainant - aged 24 at the time - was walking to work at about 11am on September 30.


She passed a young man who was walking in the opposite direction on the footpath around Rhubarb Bridge.


A few seconds later she heard the sound of someone running behind her.


Mr O’Donnell said: “He confronted her, and immediately pulled a knife from his jeans - it was described as a large kitchen knife.


“She screamed - the youth put his hand to his lips and said ‘shut up.’


“She said ‘what do you want’ and he gestured to the bushes.”


Mr O’Donnell said the woman asked if he was going to harm her, and he said he wouldn’t - but she realised what was going to happen.


Mr O’Donnell said: “But given the choice between her life and the bushes, she chose the bushes.”


The prosecutor told the court the pair went into the bushes, and the youth took his trousers down, and told the woman to do the same.


She obliged, and the youth attempted to rape her. After a short gap, Mr O’Donnell said he carried out the rape.


The woman then ran from the scene, and ended up in a shop, where she got the owner to call a taxi to take her to work. Later in the day, she told a colleague what happened, and then went to Thorpe Wood Police Station.


Officers spoke to her, and took samples, including from her clothing. The court was told DNA was able to be retrieved from a stain on the woman’s shirt. The DNA matched to the defendant - with Mr O’Donnell saying the chances of finding another DNA match was ‘one in one billion.’


The second attack is said to have taken place just six days later, at about 1pm on October 6.


The complainant was walking with her boyfriend near the bridge, when the pair had an argument.


The woman walked off, and a young male walked passed her. She asked him where Lincoln Road was, and he pointed towards Rhubarb Bridge.


She walked away, following the youth.


Mr O’Donnell said: “He then asked ‘is that your boyfriend.”


“She overtook him, and walked faster - but then he slapped her bottom.


“She turned round and stood up to him, and said ‘who do you think you are.’


“He grabbed her arms and pushed her against a wall, before grabbing her bag and running away.”


The woman’s boyfriend than called her, and the police were called.


The trial continues today - check back for further updates.....