London

Boys sentenced for rape attempt on eight-year-old girl

The girl gave evidence by videolink from another room in the court
Image caption The girl gave evidence to the Old Bailey trial via videolink

Two 11-year-old boys have been given a three year supervision order for the attempted rape of an eight-year-old girl in a west London park.

The girl was taken to hospital with stomach pains in October after telling her mother she was raped near her home.

The boys, who were both 10 at the time and cannot be named, were each found guilty of two counts of attempted rape after an Old Bailey trial in May.

The pair, who had denied all charges, were cleared of raping the girl.

Defence barristers had said the boys had just been naughty or had been playing a game like doctors and nurses.

Sentencing them, Mr Justice Saunders said he rejected this claim.

He told them: "I do not accept that what happened was a game but I do accept that you did not realise how serious what you were doing was."

Passing down the supervision order, the judge said that to impose any sort of custodial sentence would be "counter-productive" and not in the best interests of the boys.

He added both boys would be ordered to sign the sex offenders register for two-and-a-half years.

'Undoubtedly deserves'

Their mothers, who were both given 12 month parenting orders, will be required to notify the authorities of their sons' whereabouts

Speaking about the victim, the judge said: "Everyone will sympathise with her for what she has gone through.

"Not only what happened to her as the victim of these offences, but also to have to give evidence about them.

"I hope that she will be given all the help that she undoubtedly deserves to get over her experiences."

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Media captionDr Eileen Vizard, psychiatrist with NSPCC: "We need a review of the law"

During the trial, jurors heard how the boys had lured the girl into some flats, then took her into a stairwell, a lift and a bin shed before continuing their assault in a field.

The girl, who gave evidence via videolink, said the pair threw her scooter into a bush and refused to retrieve it unless she did what they told her.

The way the case was handled was later criticised by some commentators who called for changes in the way children are dealt with in criminal courts.

Judge Mr Justice Saunders appeared to address commentators who argued the case should never have come to court, saying: "Can I urge everybody to remember that hindsight is a wonderful thing and what might seem perfectly obvious in retrospect may have appeared less obvious at the time."

Maggie Atkinson, children's commissioner for England, said: "The judge has recognised the two boys were very young and sentenced them accordingly.

"Children who do wrong must be made to face up to their actions in ways that are appropriate to their age and the severity of their crime."

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