Jogger tells rape trial jury she thought she would die


Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A WOMAN allegedly subjected to a horrifying nine-hour rape ordeal by an ex-convict has told jurors that she feared she was going to die.

Giving evidence at Chester Crown Court yesterday, the woman said she had prayed for loved ones she had lost to watch over her, as she feared for her life at the hands of Chester man Peter Watton, 37.

Watton is accused of raping the 44-year-old woman last June, forcing her to repeatedly perform a series of sexual acts after attacking her while she was out jogging with her dog in woodland on Duke’s Drive, near LA Fitness gym, off Wrexham Road, Chester.

The woman said the attack left her fearing she was a “goner” when she was held captive for nine hours by Watton on June 14, when the defendant threatened her with a knife and told her he would harm her family if she did not do as he said.

Giving evidence at the trial of Watton, the woman, whose evidence was shown to the jury via DVD, told how she was attacked by Watton and taken to a secluded spot of woodland and forced to perform repeated sexual acts on Watton before having her hands tied, her face pushed in the mud and being raped.

During her evidence she said: “I felt helpless and didn’t know how I was going to get out of it.

“I was hoping someone would come looking for me and help me.

“It sounds silly but, in my head, I kept trying to speak to loved ones who I had lost and prayed they would look over me and keep me safe.

“I just kept thinking ‘I’m going to die’. I started to look at how pretty the flowers were and put some nice images in my head. I thought, is this the last thing I am going to see. I didn’t want to die cold and alone in the woods. I thought that I was a goner.”

Owen Edwards, prosecuting, told the jury of nine women and three men, when opening the case on Monday, that Watton, who had been released from prison two days previous and was on licence, had forced the woman to perform sexual acts on him at three locations on June 14 in woodland near to Handbridge from between 3pm and just before midnight, when the woman made a daring escape, along with her dog, and managed to make it through the fields to a house on Berkeley Drive, Chester, where she made a 999 call to police.

The jury was played a clip of the emotional phone call to police made by the woman, who also appeared in court yesterday behind screens in order to be cross examined by barristers Mr Edwards and Simon Christie, defending.

The court was also told by Mr Edwards of an incident in 1999 involving Watton, where he had posed as a police officer on a back lane near Crewe and physically assaulted a young woman in her car. Watton was jailed for six years for the offence, to which he pleaded guilty at Chester Crown Court in July 2000.

During evidence yesterday the woman told how Watton threatened to harm her family and said he had claimed to have been “watching her for two weeks” prior to the attack.

She said how he had told her he “could not forgive himself” for what he’d done to her and wanted to kill himself – before raping her again.

“He told me he was sorry for what he’d done and it was because he had taken a cocktail of drugs at a friend’s house the night before which had messed his head up,” said the woman.

“He said he had been to Afghanistan and Iraq and he had been a cage fighter. I had tried to build a rapport with him, hoping that he would be less likely to cause me any harm if he liked me.

“He told me I could go if I waited with him while he took an overdose. He said he wanted me to be there with him while he died.

“He asked me to kiss him, which I agreed to as I didn’t want to do anything that might anger him. All I could think of was getting this over and getting back home.

“He took some powder and a burning spoon out of his black duffel bag and took it orally. He said he was feeling relaxed and it was working but he was still paranoid about noise and anybody seeing us.

“His eyes were alert whenever he heard a noise. I knew he wasn’t going to kill himself at this point. That is when I started to worry.

“I told him I wouldn’t let the police know what happened if he let me go. He asked if I would tell them it was an affair. I said yes. I would have said anything at that point.”

The woman also told of how he had spoken about the wildlife and his childhood while walking between the scenes of where the alleged rapes and sexual assaults occurred.

She said he was paranoid of helicopters seeing them and how, while in a ‘hidey hole’ which he led her to and kept her there for five hours, he covered her mouth for fear of her screaming and held her dog’s nose and mouth closed because it had barked at cattle grazing in the field.

The woman made her escape after Watton forced her to perform a sexual act on him once again, this time while he was leading her to the river, where he said she could leave.

She said: “I thought, if he gets me by that river, I knew I’d be a goner and end up floating down the river. I knew I had to do something.”

The woman made her escape after leaving Watton with his jeans around his ankles, crossing the fields and making it to the road with her dog, claiming that she “never looked back.”

“My lungs were burning,” she said.

“I knew I had to put 100 per cent into it. I kept on running and eventually ran into a cul-de-sac where, luckily, I saw a light on and someone in the window. Once I got inside I knew I was safe.”

A police manhunt was conducted for Watton, who was found on June 20 near Rossett, after being spotted by an off-duty Special Constable who recognised him.

Police eventually tracked him down and found he had been hiding under a bridge with his sleeping bag.

Watton denies charges which include nine counts of rape, one of false imprisonment, one of possession of a bladed article and two of assault by penetration, claiming the sex was consensual.


See full story in the Chester Leader

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