Trial day two: victims feared kidnapping
TWO women targeted in separate attacks three months apart in Harborough and Desborough told a jury they feared they were going to be kidnapped.
Peter Smith (33), is accused of trying to abduct the women at knife point in sexually-motivated attacks in Harborough and Desborough between November last year and February.
A jury at Northampton Crown Court heard he admits being present at both incidents but denies there was a sexual motive and both women had misinterpreted his actions.
The defendant, who the court heard has a previous conviction for kidnap, says the intention was to rob them.
Smith, of Rushton Road, Rothwell, denies possession of a bladed article, kidnap and sexual assault of a 23-year-old woman in Harborough on November 17 last year.
He also denies attempted kidnap of a 17-year-old woman in Desborough on February 18.
Mary Loram, prosecuting, told the jury: “He says he is not a sinister stranger trying to force young women into his car. He says ‘I am a robber’.
“You are in the unusual position of not being asked to decide whether crimes were committed here but of having to decide what crimes were committed.
“Is the defendant a hapless robber or is this an attempt by him to limit the damage, to hide a much more worrying and sinister motive behind these assaults against these two young women?”
The 23-year-old woman, who cannot be named, said she was attacked while walking home from work in Harborough when Smith approached her armed with a Stanley knife.
She said: “It was dark but there were some street lights. There were other people about and the odd car but not a lot. I noticed a car had pulled up, as I walked past, a man got out of the driver’s seat, went around the front of the car and got in the passenger seat.
“He looked at me strangely and I felt uncomfortable. I started walking up the alleyway. I took my iPod out because the man had given me a strange look and I felt a bit uneasy. I looked back and saw the car had pulled up level with the bollards at the bottom of the alleyway.
“As I got to the end of the alleyway, I heard the footsteps of someone running behind me. I felt very uneasy and I think I said something like ‘Are you okay?’ or ‘Can I help you?’
“As I was talking I saw he had a knife and he said ‘Do as I say or I’m going to stab you’.”
“I said ‘okay’ and I held out my iPod - he didn’t even look at it. I had presumed he was trying to rob me. He grabbed my arm and started to lead me back down the alleyway. He kept saying ‘Come quickly, come quickly’.”
She told the jury how he pulled her down the alleyway , to about the half-way point.
She added: “He told me to lie down. He had the knife out all the time. I did as he said and he laid down on top of me. He was shorter than me so he came up to my nose. I kept thinking ‘I don’t want to be stabbed’, so I was doing whatever he said.
“He was trying to get my skirt up. It had a lot of layers in it and he was fumbling. After he had tried for a bit I said something like ‘I have tights on’. I think he realised he wasn’t getting anywhere and he seemed nervous.
“He pulled me up and said ‘I’m going to stab you now’ and he started to move the knife towards me.
“I really didn’t want to be stabbed so I was pushing his hand away. I’d grabbed his arm and realised at that point that I was actually stronger than him and I think he realised it too.
“I pushed away from him and started shouting for help. He looked at me for a split second then ran away down the alley. I ran back up the alley toward the park.”
She said she ran into a dog walker in the park and told him what had happened. He took her back to his house where they phoned the police.
“I was shaken for days after. I wasn’t hysterical but I was crying a lot. I was thinking logically but I wasn’t myself at all.”
In cross examination, John Lamb said Smith denied threatening to stab her and that the weapon was not a knife but a screwdriver.
He said Smith’s intention was to rob, not kidnap or sexually assault her.
The second woman Smith is accused of trying to kidnap in Rothwell Road, Desborough, three months later, also gave evidence today (Thursday). She too cannot be named for legal reasons.
She said she flagged down a passing car when confronted by him carrying a knife, ordering her to get into his car.
He claims he wanted to rob her but was concerned she would be run over as she backed away
Mr Lamb said: “You ended up still facing him in the road and he said something to you which you did not hear about your safety, him being concerned about you being in a busy road.”
She said: “No”.
Mr Lamb added: “I’m going to suggest he said ‘Get in the car or something’s going to happen.”
She conceded he may have said something similar but was more concerned about escaping from him by getting into the passing car she had flagged down.
Mr Lamb said: “I suggest to you that what was going on was this man with a knife had demanded property from you and that’s what you said to the people in the car.”
She added: “I don’t remember saying that. I told the people in the car what had happened. I don’t remember saying anything to them about him demanding money.”
Mrs Loram said: “Was it the case you had been asked for your money and possessions.”
The teenager told police she believed she was about to be abducted and maintained Smith had not asked for her property during the incident which happened at about 8pm on February 18.
Smith denies all the charges.
The trial continues.
Report from court by Rob Middleton. Follow Rob on Twitter
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Weather for Market Harborough
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 18 C
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