A former soldier and his accomplice who took turns to rape an underage girl when they were teenagers have been jailed for four years each in what the judge said was one of the most difficult cases of his career.
Brandon Bowmaker, 21, and Callum Dowson, 22, attacked the girl on a railway line near Guisborough, Cleveland, in 2012 after scaring her about leaving her in the woods in the dark.
The girl told police she had already had consensual sex with Bowmaker – with Dowson nearby – when the atmosphere changed and both demanded sex with her which she refused.
Aisha Wadoodi, prosecuting, said the girl was scared when they said they would abandon her, particularly as she was unfamiliar with the area which by then was pitch black.
She repeatedly asked them to stop as they raped her, with both youths swapping over at times, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Bowmaker, a former infantryman, was 15 at the time while Dowson was 16.
He said: “Children will be children and they will experiment and explore.”
The judge also said: “This has probably been one of the most difficult cases I have dealt with.
“I don’t usually have to deal with children, I deal with villains.”
Addressing the defendants in the dock, he said: “You are men now, all three of you as the pre-sentence report describes, were children.”
Their victim read a statement from the witness box expressing how the ordeal had psychologically affected her and led her to self-destructive episodes.
Although she said life was too short to hate the pair, she said: “It is now time you paid for what you have done.”
They denied the offences but were convicted by a jury last month.
Nigel Soppitt, defending Bowmaker, of Woodhouse Road, Guisborough, said the former soldier was good at his career, which he has now lost.
He said: “He is a thoroughly decent man these days, he had made a huge mistake in his early teens, he knows he has to be punished for that.
“He has to go to an adult prison for that.”
Duncan McReddie, for Dowson, of Venables Road, Guisborough, said his client had kept out of trouble in the intervening six years.
Mr McReddie said: “He is a quiet young man who leads a quiet life.”
Outside court, Detective Constable Gary Walters praised the victim’s bravery, and said: “The boys led her to a secluded area under false pretences and repeatedly raped her, despite her begging them not to.
“They will now have to live with the consequences of their actions for a very long time.”