Man 'fascinated by rape' denies prolonged sex attack on Sheffield student he befriended on dating app

The case is being heard at Sheffield Crown Court
The case is being heard at Sheffield Crown Court

A man 'fascinated with rape' has denied carrying out a prolonged sex attack against a Sheffield student whilst threatening her with a knife.

Leo Del Pellegrino, aged 26, of Addlestone, Surrey, is accused of carrying out the offences against an alleged victim, 25, he befriended on a dating app on November 8, 2016.

Sheffield Crown Court heard the prolonged assault lasted several hours and only stopped when the complainant managed to get away after Del Pellegrino fell asleep.

The jury was told the defendant allegedly dragged the victim 'by the hair to the kitchen area', and 'armed himself with a kitchen knife', which he 'waved in front of her face, held to her face and held against her throat'.

The complainant suffered cuts to her back, right buttock and hand. A yellow stanley knife was recovered by police which had traces of the defendant on it.

The court also heard the defendant had daubed 'obscene' graffiti on her body with marker pen.

Outlining the case, Gordon Stables, prosecuting, said: "The defendant subjected her to a violent, prolonged and degrading series of sexual acts which included multiple rapes.

"The defendant threatened her with the kitchen knife and told her repeatedly that she needed to be cool and do as he said or she would get hurt."

Mr Stables added: "Why do the prosecution say that he was fascinated with rape? Because he repeatedly accessed images and videos of rape on the internet, including such sites as 'RapeLover.com” and 'HeavyR.com', and some of the URL searches included 'real rape'."

The court heard Del Pellegrino, an IT security expert, was staying at a Sheffield city centre hotel on Novemeber 8, 2016.

The defendant, who was eating and drinking with colleagues at the hotel, 'matched up' with the complainant on dating app TanTan. Messages were exchanged between them which led the defendant to persuading the complainant to meet him outside her block of flats for a 'cigarette and a chat'.

Del Pellegrino then asked the complainant to use the toilet in her flat which she agreed for him to do. They later shared a kiss which the complainant was 'okay with' after he asked for a drink.

But the court heard the defendant 'became violent' and pushed her back onto the bed, gripped the complainant by the throat and started pulling her hair whilst kissing her.

The complaint tried to stop him but he just increased his level of force, gripping her harder. She realised that he was really strong and that she 'couldn’t win a fight with him', the court heard.

The prosecution also said the defendant sought, accessed or downloaded images or videos of 'Asian women', including the 'use of knives', restraint, cuts to the body and abusive writing on the body of a victim.

Later, his hotel room was searched and a laptop was recovered with a number of 'extreme pornographic images' on.

In police interview, Del Pellegrino said the complainant was 'enjoying' the sexual activity and shared several drinks with him before inside her flat.

In a statement read out to the court, the defendant told police: "I didn't get the impression she was uncomfortable or anything like that.

"She seemed to be enjoying it. She seemed really into the whole idea.

"I always felt she was taking part as well. She was getting involved."

Explaining the cut on her hand, Del Pellegrino said he told the complainant he had never seen a rice cooker before and moved a small knife on the kitchen side which 'accidentally' caught her.

"I don't like hurting people, it was definitely an accident. That's why I went over to the first aid box."

Del Pellegrino denies a series of allegations including rape, making indecent images and sexual assault on a female.

The trial continues.