Men go on trial accused of raping girl on Sheffield street more than a decade ago

Andre Francis-Edge, 26, and Christopher Whiteley, 24, went on trial at Sheffield Crown Court today, both accused of one count of rape
Andre Francis-Edge, 26, and Christopher Whiteley, 24, went on trial at Sheffield Crown Court today, both accused of one count of rape

Two men have gone on trial accused of raping a girl on a Sheffield street, in an incident alleged to have taken place more than a decade ago when all three people involved were teenagers.

Christopher Whiteley, 24, of Weakland Crescent, Hackenthorpe, and 26-year-old Andres Francis-Edge, of Wheata Road, Ecclesfield both went on trial at Sheffield Crown Court today, jointly accused of one count of rape alleged to have been carried out against the same girl.

Prosecutor, Peter Hampton, told jurors how the complainant met both of the defendants on a number of occasions prior to the alleged sex offences taking place, as part of a group of 'young men' who hung around Sheffield City Centre.

He said: "It is the prosecution's case that these two defendants, Andres Frances-Edge and Christopher Whiteley, first befriended her and then took advantage of her, who, at the time, was a lonely and vulnerable girl.

"They did it in order to satisfy themselves sexually. They didn't care if the complainant wanted, or consented to, such sexual activity."

The offence is alleged to have taken place near to steps leading down to Pond Street in Sheffield City Centre between September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2007 when the complainant was 15-years-old.

At the time of the alleged offence Francis-Edge would also have been around 15-years-old, while Whiteley would have been between 13 and 14-years-old.

Mr Hampton told the court that while Whiteley would have been one or two years younger that the complainant, she believed him to be roughly two-years older because of the way he acted.

He said that incident took place when the defendants' alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, encountered them while they were congregating on the steps leading down to Pond Street with a group of young men they were friends with.

"She was wearing a silver chain. Andres Francis-Edge asked to see it. The group began passing it round themselves before it ended up back with Mr Francis-Edge," said Mr Hampton, adding: "She asked for it back, and then she asked for it back again. It is the Prosecution's case that Mr Francis-Edge then saw an opportunity."

"He told her she would have to do something for them in order to get it back," he continued.

Francis-Edge and Whiteley are reported to have then taken their alleged victim to a secluded stairwell where it is alleged she was forced to carry out a sex act on both defendants, one after the other.

Mr Hampton said: "The prosecution is clear, this was rape. She submitted to sexual contact because she felt she had no choice. There was no threat of force, but gone are the days where that is a requirement of rape."

The complainant reported the incident to police in 2016, some nine and 10-years after the alleged offence.

She subsequently correctly identified both defendants during identification parades carried out in December 2016.

Both defendants denied carrying out the offence and also denied knowing their alleged victim during police interviews, the court was told.

Francis-Edge and Whiteley both deny one count of rape.

The trial, which is expected to conclude at the end of this week, continues.