Oxford

Rape accused James Murray 'had relationship' with teen

James Murray outside Oxford Crown Court
Image caption Mr Murray denies the rape charge at Oxford Crown Court

An aristocrat accused of raping a teenage girl had been having a sexual relationship with her for more than a week, a court has heard.

Oxford Crown Court heard James Murray, 41, the son of the Earl of Mansfield, said he had developed a "soft spot" for the alleged victim.

Murray denies carrying out the rape in June 2010 after getting the girl drunk.

The court heard she was one of a group of teenagers who used to visit his Oxford flat.

'Safe haven'

The group would drink, smoke, play on Mr Murray's laptop and listen to music, the court heard.

In a police interview read to the jury, Mr Murray said he had been trying to "engage" with youngsters who gathered outside his house, because there had been security problems with bicycles and post going missing.

Some of the young people, because he lived in a ground floor flat, directed their attention at him, he told police.

He said he felt he was offering the alleged victim a "safe haven" from her home life and he gave her a key as she was a foster child, but would rather sleep in the park than go home.

"I became a sort of ally, and instinctively thought she was seeking an ally," he told police.

For about a week or 10 days before the alleged attack, the girl started sleeping at his house every night.

He told police he had had sex with the alleged victim "up to half a dozen" times in the eight or nine days before the attack is said to have taken place.

Upset and crying

The jury earlier heard from a friend of the alleged victim who said the pair were "just friends".

Jurors were told that on the day after the alleged attack, the girl was very upset and crying and told friends that Murray had kept on offering her drinks with alcohol, but she was only drinking Ribena and Coke.

"She woke up the next morning with him naked next to her," the witness said.

A toxicology report found no evidence of recently consumed alcohol in the alleged victim's urine sample but an expert warned that it was provided 19 hours after she went to bed and a considerable amount of alcohol could have been eliminated in that time.

The trial continues.

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