Sheffield ‘rape victim’ brands attacker a 'monster'

Peter Pickering
Peter Pickering
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A Sheffield woman who claims she was subjected to a violent rape 46 years ago has described her attacker as a 'monster'.

The woman made the statement as she gave evidence in the trial of convicted child killer Peter Pickering, who jurors today heard was known as 'The Beast of Wombwell'.

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He is on trial at Leeds Crown Court, where he is accused of false imprisonment and the rape of an 18-year-old woman from the Stocksbridge area of Sheffield in June 1972.

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The woman, now in her sixties, told jurors how she was handcuffed and raped in the back of a van.

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Pickering, now 80, is said to have carried out the attack around three to four weeks before he raped and killed 14-year-old Shirley Boldy in Barnsley.

The schoolgirl was returning home from Wombwell High School when Pickering bundled her into the back of his van.

The youngster was subjected to a sex attack before being strangled and stabbed.

Pickering is the subject of a hospital order after pleading guilty to the manslaughter and rape of Shirley Boldy on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Giving evidence, the woman he is later accused of raping, said today: "I remain in fervent belief, whether he has a mental illness or not, the man is a monster and wherever he is now, that is the right place for him to be."

The jury has been told Pickering attacked the woman in his van after she accepted a lift to work from him.

He is then alleged to have lit a cigarette which he used to inflict burn injuries to her arms and breasts.

Prosecution barrister Michelle Colbourne, QC, asked the woman to describe the sequence of events and the sexual abuse.

She replied: "From being tied up, my underwear being removed - destroyed - by whatever means, being raped, being abused and being burned by a cigarette and fearing for my life all the time afterwards.

"He was sweating profusely. He was like a man possessed.

"Then quite calmly he said 'I'm going to have to kill you now.'

"I thought 'how am I going to get out of this?'"

The court heard the woman managed to calm Pickering down and reassured him that she would not report the incident.

The alleged false imprisonment and rape offences did not come to light until recently when police were looking through Pickering's medical notes and found disclosures he made to psychiatrists.

As a result of the disclosures police were able to trace the woman.

Pickering's barrister, Sasha Wass, QC, asked the woman: "During this time, I'm going to suggest that there was a lot of media interest in The Beast of Wombwell, and you never put two and two together?"

She replied: "Years later I actually thought he was Peter Sutcliffe (the Yorkshire Ripper)."

Miss Wass continued: "He (Pickering) had that notoriety at the time didn't he - The Beast of Wombwell?"

The woman replied: "I am denying any knowledge of that. I do not remember."

Miss Wass asked the woman: "I am going to suggest that you and Peter (Pickering) were actually getting along quite well at that stage and that you suggested, and he agreed, that you should go for a drive?"

The woman replied: "No"

She added: "I would like it on record, please, that I did not voluntarily go with that man."

Pickering denies rape and false imprisonment.

The trial continues