Man who killed schoolgirl in 1972 ‘violently raped woman weeks earlier’

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A woman has described how she thought she was going to die when she was allegedly abducted and violently raped by a man just weeks before he raped and killed a schoolgirl 46 years ago.

A jury at Leeds Crown Court heard how Peter Pickering, now 80, has been held under a hospital order ever since he admitted the manslaughter by diminished responsibility of 14-year-old Shirley Boldy in 1972.

Shirley was bundled into a van by Pickering as she was returning to Wombwell High School, near Barnsley, and driven to a secluded area where she was raped, strangled and then stabbed to death.

Speaking from behind a screen the woman, who is now in her 60s, told the jury how Pickering burned her breasts with a cigarette after raping her and then told her: “I suppose I’m going to have to kill you now.”

She described how Pickering picked her up in his van as she was on a four-mile walk to work as a waitress from her home in the Stocksbridge area of Sheffield.

The woman said she was handcuffed and violently attacked in the back of the van by the man, who said he was called Peter.

She told the jury her trauma continued after the rape.

“He burned me on my breasts,” she said.

“It seemed like forever. About a dozen times. It was very, very painful.”

The woman said: “I was stunned into silence. I just thought I was going to die.”

She said: “When he’d finished he said ‘I suppose I’m going to have to kill you now’.

“I had no doubt in my mind that that was what he intended.”

But she said she decided she “was not going down without a fight”.

The woman said she never told anyone about the attack.

Pickering, who appeared by video-link from Swindon Crown Court, denies rape and false imprisonment.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Michelle Colborne QC told the jury: “The reason you are trying this case now is that it didn’t come to light at the time and in fact wasn’t actually detected until
more recently when the police were looking through some medical notes of the defendant, who has been the subject of a hospital order since December 7 1972.”

Ms Colborne said that when police contacted the woman in December 2016, she said to the officer: “Is it about Peter?”.

“That was the first time since 1972 she had uttered his name,” the prosecutor said.

Ms Colborne said that Pickering claims the woman consented to sex.

She told the jury: “Accordingly, you will have to decide whether (the woman) has told you the truth about being restrained, raped and burned, because the defendant says none of those things happened and they are clearly not consistent with consent.”

She said: “This defendant was a predator whose means of operating was to use force to get what he wanted.”

Ms Colborne said documents, letters and diaries written by Pickering support the prosecution case.

She said these were found when police searched a garage in Sheffield in October 2016.

She said: “A trawl of that material revealed items of relevance to this case. They also found some handcuffs.”

The prosecutor said these include extracts “which tend to support the prosecution case that the defendant had a desire to commit violent sexual offences against young girls and in particular an interest in burning breasts in the build-up to the commission of this attack.”

She told the jury that an entry written in October 1970 said: “Well we’ll… wait till 1972 gets here. Sex is predominant in my mind – eclipsing all else.

“Maybe I will be a sex maniac proper. Rape, torture, kill. It’s fascinating at least, more so young girls – virgin convent type or a nun maybe.”

The prosecutor told the jury how the killing of Shirley Boldy was witnessed by a group of walkers from a distance away.

“They saw that he was wearing gloves and had the knife in his hand whilst she struggled to get away,” she said.

“They heard Shirley’s screams. They ran along the cliff towards the car, but the defendant
had seen them and drove off at speed.”

Due to this, Pickering was caught and led police to her body.

The judge, Mr Justice Goss, told the jury that Pickering – who sat in the dock in Swindon wearing a beige outdoor coat – was being held at Thornford Park Hospital, in Berkshire.

The woman will continue giving evidence on Tuesday.

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