July 2011 – Six British footballers jailed for gang raping two 12-year-old girls in a park have been freed after judges ruled the girls ‘wanted to have sex’.  The men, aged between 19 and 21, had sex with the youngsters in a park. But despite being handed two-year jail terms in March at Reading Crown Court after admitting various counts of rape, they were freed. Lord Justice Moses, hearing the case with Justice Holroyde and Judge Francis Gilbert, branded their original imprisonment ‘excessive’ in what was a ‘difficult’ case.

March 2011

Six footballers jailed over gang rape of 12-year-old girls in midnight park orgy

Offenders top l then clockwise – Jahson Downes,Courtney AmosAshley Charles,Dennis De Sousa,Jahvon Edwards,Luke Farrugia

Six footballers who had a midnight sex orgy in a park with two 12-year-old girls, have been jailed.

Courtney Amos,19, Ashley Charles, 20, Dennis De Sousa, 18, Jahson Downes, 20, Jahvon Edwards, 19, and Luke Farrugia, 21, have all admitted rape of a girl under the age of 13.

Downes is a former Reading FC academy player, who until recently played for Basingstoke Town, in Hampshire, Luke Farrugia plays for Reading Town and Courtney Amos has also completed two years of football coaching.

Reading Crown Court heard how the soccer players were encouraged by the schoolgirl ‘Lolitas’ – with one allegedly sending them a text message saying: ‘We can have three each.’  

Several of the players had been together on the night of the rapes – Saturday February 21 last year.

Judge Stephen John heard that the six players picked up the two girls and drove in two Vauxhall Corsa cars to a recreation ground in Reading, Berkshire, where one of the 12-year-olds was raped by five of the men.

The other girl was more reluctant and was raped by just one player.

The girls told the men they 16 years old and had sneaked away from a party to be with them after exchanging suggestive text messages, it was alleged.

The court heard how after driving to the park with the men, the girls separated and while one appeared to be reluctant to engage in any sexual activity, the other went to the far end of the area and called the defendants over one-by-one to have full sex or perform sex acts on them.

The judge heard that the most active of the two girls, mentioned in five of the six charges, could not have been trusted by the prosecution as a witness.

She was also being investigated over an unrelated false rape allegation and had a fake age on her Facebook page.

When the girls were reported missing by one of their mothers, police found them wandering in the street at 2.20am.

An appeal was launched to find those involved and soon all six had handed themselves in and made full confessions.

They were said to have been shocked and disgusted to learn the true ages of the girls, with one stating: ‘I’ve got a little sister about that age.’  

Alan Blake, prosecuting, said one of the girls, who had moved away from Reading with her family, returned for the party, during which her friend was texting ‘some boys’.

Police analysis showed she was in touch with Edwards and had been for a number of days.

When Edwards said he was with five friends a message returned from the girl’s phone, suggesting: ‘We can have three each,’ before adding a smiley face icon.

The men arrived in two Vauxhall Corsas and sent a further message.

Mr Blake added: ‘The girls split up. One went beside the building and the other went to a children’s play area. She said one of the males kept asking her for sex. She was initially reluctant but eventually gave in to his persistence.

It was her account that there was only one male she had any sexual contact with.

‘The witnesses described how the boys went over to the other girl one at a time on the other side of the park, that she was calling them over and they were going one by one.’  

Defence lawyers, mitigating for the six defendants, described the case as ‘exceptional.’  

They highlighted the lies of the young girl who took part in most of the sexual activity and said that if it had not been for their clients’ honesty and full descriptions of events, the Crown Prosecution Service would have had no case.

They also said that in the circumstances, if the activities had taken place just four weeks later than they had, when the main girl would have turned 13, none of the defendants would have faced any criminal charges because of the defence provided by her actions.

They added that the careers of the promising young footballers had been ruined by ‘the biggest mistake [of their] lives’.

Before retiring to consider sentence Judge John said he had been hopeful but was not surprised that the girls’ parents had not attended court.

‘The girls still out at 2am at the age of 12, no indication, that I’m aware of, of parents making frantic 999 calls to police,’ he said critically.

Judge John sentenced Amos, of  Caversham, Berks, Charles, of Coley, Berks., De Sousa, of Tilehurst, Berks., and Edwards, of  West Reading, to be detained for two years in a young offenders’ institute.

Farrugia, of Barnwood Close, West Reading, was sent to prison for two years.