THE jury in the trial of a man accused of repeatedly raping a woman in Chester woodland during a nine-hour ordeal is today due to be sent out to consider its verdict.
The jury of nine women and three men heard the final evidence from defence and prosecution at the trial of Peter Watton, 37, at Chester Crown Court yesterday.
Watton is accused of holding a 44-year-old Chester woman captive, raping her several times and forcing her to perform sexual acts upon him in woodland near Duke’s Drive, close to the LA Fitness gym, off Wrexham Road, on June 14 of last year.
It is alleged Watton, who was released from HMP Risley on licence after serving three years of a six-year sentence, forced the woman through a terrifying ordeal after coming across her as she ran with her dog through the popular woodland.
During the ordeal, it was alleged by the woman Watton held her against her will and forced her to perform sex acts on her, threatening her with a knife and claiming he would hurt her family.
She also said Watton, who it is claimed took her to a nearby ‘hidey hole’ after the scene of the first alleged rape, kept her there for seven hours, claiming he wanted her to be by his side while he took a drug overdose in an attempt to kill himself.
She also claimed he took her to a third location, from which she escaped, after fleeing with her dog during a sexual act which Watton had forced her to perform.
Cross-examining Watton yesterday, Owen Edwards, prosecuting, described the defendant as a “dangerous man”, citing his previous bad character which spoke of his violent assault on a woman on a remote country lane near Crewe in 1999, and the kidnap of a teenager and physical threats carried out with accomplices in the Crewe area in 2009.
During his evidence, Watton, who revealed he had battled with a heroin addiction in the past, claimed the woman had stopped to talk to him while he was having a cigarette on the Duke’s Drive pathway – a popular route for dog walkers and runners – and, after a brief exchange, the pair had consensual sex in the woodland.
When asked by Mr Edwards whether he thought the woman was telling “a pack of lies”, Watton replied: “Yes. It is all untrue. I’m outraged by the accusations to be honest.”
Speaking on a 999 call made by the woman at a home, she claimed to have escaped following her ordeal shortly after midnight on the night of the alleged attack. Mr Edwards, addressing the jury, said: “Is the man who was described in the 999 call by the woman as having raped her, been a druggie, and been paranoid, who is the same man who the woman supposedly found sexually irresistible only hours before?”
Watton said he had entered into consensual sex with the woman after they had chatted briefly and talked about their problems in personal relationships at home, claiming he told her his ex-wife wanted to get back with him but had cheated on him while he was in prison.
Mr Edwards, who claimed Watton was “making it up” as he went along, pressed Watton over evidence he gave which had not been given in a police interview at the time.
Watton claimed a lace which the woman presented to police – allegedly used to tie her up during part of the ordeal – had been taken by her during their encounter “because the dog was interested in it and might run off with it,” and how socks left at the scene by the woman were because “they were wet and I gave her some dry ones of mine out of my bag.”
In a police interview at the time, Watton claimed to have only known the first name of the defendant, but in cross examination, he claimed to know her full address and postcode, which he produced correctly, claiming she had told him this information during their encounter.
Rejecting that claim and addressing the jury during his final submissions, Mr Edwards said: “Think about his account. He claims she told him her postcode. I would be surprised, ladies and gentleman of the jury, if everyone would know their postcodes off by heart, let alone volunteer the information during a sexual encounter.”
Watton, who denies all charges, told the jury how after the sexual encounter he saw the police activity outside his home and “panicked”, fearing the police were there due to him being out late and in breach of his licence.
He said he walked to Saltney and slept near the train tracks for two days, returning home during that time to be told by his mother the police were searching for him for allegedly raping a woman.
“I didn’t want to go back to prison,” said Watton. “I left again and walked towards Gwersyllt, near Wrexham. From there I just walked around and had been sleeping in a field for a couple of nights.”
Watton was arrested on June 20 after an off-duty special constable saw Watton while the train was stopped and gave chase.
“I wondered why the train driver was shouting at me out of the window,” said Watton, of Henley Road, Lache.
“I didn’t see a special constable. I didn’t want to get caught because I didn’t want to go back to jail.
“I knew by then I was wanted for a serious offence.
“I haven’t done anything wrong. It’s all lies.”
Judge Elgan Edwards yesterday began summing up the case to the jury and was due to send the jury out to consider its verdict today.