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This girl stripped a woman naked, helped hold her down and egged on a gang of 10 men to rape her; Victim, 37, tells court attackers were like a pack of wild animals.

Byline: ADRIAN SHAW

A TEENAGE girl was convicted of rape yesterday after a horrific gang attack.

Claire Marsh is one of only a few women ever to have been found guilty of the charge.

Marsh, 18, helped strip the 37-year-old victim naked.

Then she pinned her down and egged on others to take turns to rape the woman by a canal.

The victim, who had earlier been pushed into the Grand Union Canal in west London by the gang, eventually managed to get free.

Petrified, she ran naked for a mile through streets until she made it back to her home where she told her boyfriend.

Marsh, although incapable of a physical rape, was charged on the grounds of knowingly and willingly being part of the act.

She was convicted by a 10-2 majority at London's Blackfriars Crown Court after a three-week trial and was remanded in custody for sentencing on May 8.

The victim, of Ladbroke Grove, London, told how she was surrounded by Marsh and 13 other members of the notorious Drayford Crew gang as she was making her way home.

She told the jury: "I was on the floor and my clothes started coming off. One grabbed my trousers, one grabbed my jacket. They were all off in a matter of seconds."

She added: "A girl was pointing at me and laughing and was encouraging them. When the first one had finished raping me, another black guy came towards me, again unzipped his trousers and had a go the same way, raping me as well."

She said she broke away but was chased and caught.

She added: "They were just grabbing my limbs, like an animal, dragging me along the ground and kicking me."

The woman admitted she was a "bit tipsy" when she was attacked but then went into "sober escape mode" when she found herself being attacked.

Marsh, who now lives in Margate, Kent, then lived on the notorious Drayford council estate in Paddington.

She admitted punching the woman after she clambered out of the canal but claimed the victim was drunk and had turned on her when she managed to get out of the water.

Two members of the gang involved in the attack, on July 22 last year, have admitted rape.

They are Marvin Edwards, 18, of Brentford, and a 15-year-old boy from East Ham who can not be identified for legal reasons.

Two other youths who stood trial with Marsh for rape on the grounds of joint enterprise were found not guilty.

Marsh's attitude when questioned about the rape stunned detectives.

One senior officer said: "She just did not seem to take it seriously. She was being questioned about an extremely serious offence but we could have been talking to her about something like shoplifting or stealing a car.

"That attidude prevailed through the gang - they just did not take a rape seriously."

The gang ranged in age from 12 to 18 and included white, black and mixed race youngsters.

Four were girls and the rapists were caught after some of those not involved in the attack came forward after huge publicity.

The victim had been left extremely distraught by the attack but is coping and is now eight months pregnant by her boyfriend.

The detective said: "The one thing she does feel is totally betrayed by the fact that a woman could have been involved.

"She simply cannot believe that another woman could have egged on other men to force her into sex."

Judge Timothy Pontius turned down a bail application for Marsh and told Iain Morley, defending: "She will know, because you have told her, given this was a particularly vile, horrifying, offence of sexual brutality, a substantial custodial sentence is inevitable."

Claire Marsh is not the only woman to have been convicted of rape - but she is certainly the youngest.

Scotland Yard statistics show that two women a year are accused of rape.

During Marsh's trial, prosecutor Richard Whittam told the jury: "She can not commit sexual intercourse by penetrating a victim.

"But, if she were party to the group attack and if she were actively encouraging and therefore ready to lend a physical hand, or if she were holding down while an offence were taking place, she, in law, would be guilty of rape even though she is female."

After the case, detectives said that most offences of women charged with rape tend to be domestic cases.

They usually involve dysfunctional families where a mother has held down a daughter to allow a stepfather to rape her.

An officer said: "The case involving Claire Marsh is probably not unique but it is extremely unusual.

"We were stunned by her total indifference to the allegations that we put to her."
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 17, 2001
Words:791
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