Ipswich: Ex-special constable denies knowing alleged rape victim

A FORMER special constable denies knowing a schoolgirl he allegedly raped, a court heard.

Andrew Barber, of Netley Close, Ipswich, denied raping a 15-year-old and two counts of sexual activity with a 14-year-old when his trial started at Norwich Crown Court last week.

The alleged rape took place in Landseer Park, Ipswich, in October 2003 but Barber, 26, said he did not go to the park with the complainant, did not rape her and did not know who she was.

The remaining two allegations of sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl were said to have occurred in 2010, five months after he was sworn in as a special constable.

It is alleged that on two occasions in November 2010 the pair had consensual sex in Barber’s car.

Barber told the court he met the girl, who told him she was aged 16, at the Derby Road bus stop, meeting her four times in total.

Chris Paxton, defending, said Barber and the girl communicated via text before Barber discovered she was younger than she stated after finding her profile on Facebook, but the pair remained friends.

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Describing their friendship, Barber told the court: “Our relationship was platonic, a lot of banter and sarcasm.

“Some of it was close to the knuckle but there was no sexual relationship ever.

“We pushed the boat out quite a lot and would get very flirty but never beyond that.”

Barber, who was sworn in as a special constable in June 2010, was arrested on December 21, 2010, and produced a carrier bag with a number of items of ladies’ underwear after being told his bedroom would be searched.

He told the court the collection of underwear was in relation to a drinking game with his friends.

“We all put in �30 and whoever got the most ladies’ underwear won but I didn’t have the heart of going up to girls and asking for their underwear because it was belittling to them,” the court heard.

Barber stated he asked for the underwear from female friends, including the 14-year-old girl before he knew her true age, but accepts it was a “stupid idea”.

He alleges that the girl left her underwear in his car, without his knowledge, after he took her to buy cigarettes.

The trial continues.